CIT Group Inc's bankruptcy case was reassigned on Monday to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Allan Gropper following the recusal of Judge Robert Gerber, who had been assigned the case hours earlier.

A courtroom deputy for Gropper said Gerber recused himself from the case. The deputy did not give a reason for the recusal. Gerber's chambers had no immediate comment.

CIT, a source of financing to about one million small and mid-sized businesses, filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors on Sunday after gathering support from most of its bondholders for its prepackaged reorganization.

The bankruptcy filing, one of the five largest in U.S. history, followed a failed debt exchange offer.

CIT said it hopes to emerge from bankruptcy by the end of the year and reduce its debt by $10 billion. The New York-based company intends to keep lending, and a quick reorganization is crucial if it expects to retain most customers.

Gropper has been a bankruptcy judge since 2000. His cases have included the reorganization of Northwest Airlines Corp, which later merged with Delta Air Lines Inc, and the current proceedings for the giant mall owner General Growth Properties Inc.

Before joining the bench, Gropper was a partner at White & Case, where he was involved in many of the largest U.S. bankruptcies, including Federated Department Stores and Texaco. He has degrees from Yale University and Harvard Law School.

According to its bankruptcy petition, CIT had $71 billion of assets and $64.9 billion of liabilities on June 30.

In morning trading, CIT shares fell 44 cents, or 61 percent, to 28 cents. The New York Stock Exchange said it would suspend trading in CIT prior to Tuesday's market open.

The case is In re CIT Group Inc, US Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, Case No. 09-16565.

(Reporting by Chelsea Emery and Jonathan Stempel; editing by John Wallace)