CIT Group Inc is nearing a plan that likely would hand the struggling commercial lender over to its bondholders, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Citing a person familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal said that CIT late Tuesday was preparing an exchange offer that would eliminate 30 percent to 40 percent of its more than $30 billion in outstanding debt.

The plan would offer bondholders new debt secured by CIT assets, as well as nearly all of the equity in a restructured company, the Journal said.

A spokesman for CIT was not immediately available for comment Tuesday evening.

If not enough bondholders agreed to the plan, the company could seek to restructure in bankruptcy court, the person told the Journal. This would result in one of the largest Chapter 11 bankruptcy-court filings in U.S. history, the Journal said.

CIT's board has yet to approve any course of action, the person said.

Although CIT received $2.3 billion in December under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) federal regulators this year declined further requests by CIT for funds. U.S. taxpayers are likely to see much of its investment wiped out under the possible restructuring plan, people familiar with the matter told the Journal.

The lender to small and medium-sized businesses, as well as to commercial real estate borrowers, has until October 1 to present a restructuring plan to lenders, the Journal said.

(Reporting by Ilaina Jonas)