Lehman Brothers Collection - Contemporary Business Archives

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Twentieth-Century Business Archives

C.I.T. Financial Corp. - Lehman Brothers Collection

C.I.T. Financial Corp.

List of Deals

The C.I.T. Financial Corporation was established in 1908 and incorporated in Delaware in 1924. It was originally called the Commercial Investment Trust Corporation and was organized to acquire all of the common stock of four companies: Commercial Investment Trust of New York, Mercantile Acceptance Company of Chicago, Canadian Acceptance Corporation of Toronto, and Insurers Exchange Corporation of New York.

Through the next several decades C.I.T. expanded rapidly as it acquired other companies, particularly finance companies and especially those that provided motor vehicle financing. For example, in 1925 C.I.T. acquired the San Francisco Securities Corporation and in the following year it bought United Dominion Trust Limited of England. In 1929 it added Frederick Vietor & Achelis, Inc., as well as Motor Dealers Credit Corporation and the Pierce Arrow Finance Corporation.

C.I.T. added the finance firms Schefer, Schramm & Vogel and L. Erstein & Brothers in 1931, and in the same year it acquired Morton H. Meinhard & Company, Northern Acceptance Corporation, and the auto financing business of Merchants & Manufacturers Securities Corporation. In 1932 it bought the factoring department of William Iselin & Company. C.I.T. purchased control of Ford Motor Company's finance subsidiary, Universal Credit Corporation, in 1933, and in 1934 it bought the assets and operations of Midland Acceptance Corporation of Cincinnati, an automobile sales finance company. In 1936 the company purchased National Surety Corporation of New York. By 1938 these acquisitions had helped C.I.T. grow to the point that it now employed over 6,300 people and had sales of $42.3 million.

Beginning in the 1940s, C.I.T. also began to diversity outside of finance. In 1942 it acquired Holtzer-Cabot Electric Company of Boston and Micro Switch Corporation of Freeport, Illinois. C.I.T. acquired Tuition Plan Inc. in 1955, and in 1958 it added Picker X-Ray Corporation, a manufacturer of radiological equipment and accessories, and also North American Insurance Company of Chicago. During 1958 C.I.T. also formed Service Leasing Corporation to provide fleet leasing of business cars and trucks.

C.I.T. bought Home Finance Service, a personal loan company operating forty-two offices in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia in 1960. That year it also created the C.I.T. Leasing Corporation to handle leasing of machine tools and other industrial equipment.

C.I.T. earned $45.6 million on sales of $231.9 million in 1961, compared to a profit of $36.9 million with sales of $196.5 million in 1955.

During the 1960s C.I.T. added several more companies. In 1962 it purchased Family Finance Inc. of Indianapolis. It bought Time Finance Company, a consumer finance company with offices in Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia in 1963 and also added Unifinanz, A.G., which conducted European sales- financing activities through subsidiaries in West Germany and England. C.I.T. bought Gibson Greeting Cards of Cincinnati in 1964 with approximately $36 million in cash. Gibson was one of the largest producers and distributors of greeting cards, gift-wrappings, party goods, and other paper products. That same year it also added Cleo-Wrap of Memphis, a manufacturer of gift-wrappings.

In 1965 C.I.T. acquired control of the Meadow Brook National Bank in West Hempstead, N.Y. In January 1966 C.I.T. bought All-Steel Equipment Inc. and later that year it acquired Kaye-Gibson, Ltd., and Brent Press Ltd., both of Great Britain. It added Laurentide Finance Corporation as well as B.K. Johl, a Canadian producer of steel office furniture, in 1967.

In November 1970 C.I.T. bought the personal loan operations of General Acceptance Corporation in Canada and Puerto Rico for cash. It acquired National Bank of Far Rockaway in October 1962, and in conjunction with this acquisition C.I.T. increased its interest in National Bank of North America to 100 percent.

By 1975 C.I.T. Financial Corporation was a diversified conglomerate with interests in business and consumer financing, insurance, banking, and manufacturing and merchandising. The financing and banking operations accounted for approximately 70 percent of net income in 1974, while insurance and manufacturing accounted for 17 percent and 13 percent, respectively.

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