Countrywide Financial Corp. president and chief operating officer Stanford L. Kurland -- once considered a possible heir to chief executive officer Angelo Mozilo -- resigned from the company Thursday evening.Mr. Kurland was immediately replaced by David Sambol, a 21-year veteran of Countrywide who served as executive managing director of business segment operations. A source familiar with the situation told MortgageWire Mr. Sambol "is now in the path of succession" to succeed Mr. Mozilo, whose contract with the company expires at year-end. Who will succeed Mr. Mozilo as CEO, and when, "is now in the hands of the board," said the source. Mr. Mozilo also holds the title of chairman, which he has said he intends to keep after stepping down as CEO. Mr. Kurland worked at Countrywide, the nation's largest lender and servicer, for 28 years. In a statement, Mr. Mozilo said Mr. Kurland "has made significant contributions to Countrywide's success." The company can be found online at http://www.countrywide.com.

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