Ford Motor promoted veteran executive Joy Falotico to lead the Ford Credit lending unit, making her the first woman to run the operation that provides financing to auto buyers and dealers worldwide.

Falotico, 49, will replace Bernard Silverstone, 60, who is retiring as Ford Motor Credit Co.'s chairman and chief executive officer as of Oct. 1, the company said in a statement Tuesday. The unit, which had pretax profit of $2.1 billion last year, has forecast receivables of as much as $139 billion this year, giving it the size of a major bank.

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