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CIT chief plans exit as the lender struggles on

Embattled CIT Group said yesterday that its chief executive Jeffrey Peek will retire at the end of the year, as the commercial finance company struggles to avoid bankruptcy.<br /><br />The company, which lends to small and medium-sized businesses, said its board of directors is forming a committee to search for a successor.<br /><br />Peek has led CIT since 2003, and in September his contract was extended for another year. He has been widely criticised for being slow to recognise the extent to which the credit crunch would endanger the company&rsquo;s business model by lifting its borrowing costs.<br /><br />The company is hoping to exchange much of its current debt for new debt and equity, in an effort to reduce its overall borrowings and strengthen its balance sheet. <br /><br />But the sources say that exchange is not going well, and that CIT is increasingly likely to file for bankruptcy protection.