CIT talks fall apart, bankruptcy looms

giovedì 16 luglio 2009 01:15

By Karey Wutkowski and Jonathan Stempel

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - CIT Group Inc (CIT.N: Quotazione), a major lender to small- and mid-sized U.S. businesses, said on Wednesday that bailout talks with the government had ended, a development that heightened the chances the company would file for bankruptcy.

"Discussions with government agencies have ceased," CIT said in a statement. "There is no appreciable likelihood of additional government support being provided over the near term."

CIT said its management, directors and advisers were evaluating alternatives.

The announcement followed last-ditch talks in which the Treasury Department had expressed concern about a worsening liquidity crunch at New York-based CIT, and indications that government aid would not put the lender on a path to recovery.

Treasury, in a later statement, said the government needed to keep the threshold high for exceptional aid to individual companies, adding that the United States had a powerful set of financing mechanisms to help restart overall credit markets.

Founded more than a century ago, CIT's problems mushroomed in recent years in the wake of Chief Executive Jeffrey Peek's decision to expand into potentially highly profitable but riskier areas such as subprime mortgages and student loans.

If it were to go bankrupt, it would join Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc LEHMQ.PK and Washington Mutual Inc WAMUQ.PK among large U.S. financial services companies to collapse since the credit crisis accelerated last September.

It would also show the possible limits of Washington's willingness to rescue companies, after multiple bailouts for much larger companies such as American International Group Inc (AIG.N: Quotazione) and Citigroup Inc (C.N: Quotazione).   Continua...

<p>Pedestrians walk past the Cit offices in New York, July 13, 2009. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid</p>