CIT Group Inc , a large finance company trying to avoid bankruptcy, reached a tentative agreement with Goldman Sachs Group Inc over a disputed payment on a $3 billion loan, Dow Jones Newswires reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.

An agreement over the $1 billion make whole payment could be made final within 24 hours, the news service said, citing one of the sources.

CIT had no immediate comment. Goldman did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Goldman would be entitled to the $1 billion payment under the $3 billion rescue package it provided in June 2008, six months before the U.S. government invested $2.33 billion in CIT through the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

CIT lends close to 1 million small- and mid-sized companies. If it went bankrupt, the case would be one of the five largest U.S. bankruptcies, based on reported assets.

A settlement could help the New York-based company as it conducts a large debt exchange in an effort to avoid bankruptcy.

Earlier this week, the corporate raider Carl Icahn offered to underwrite a $6 billion loan to CIT, saying he was the company's largest creditor and could offer better terms than other lenders.

CIT shares closed Thursday unchanged at $1.12 on the New York Stock Exchange. They rose to $1.20 after-hours.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel and Steve Eder)