Battling to pay off mounds of debt, Conseco Inc. went to work in March, restructuring $1.5 billion in bank loans, extending the maturity on up to $2.54 billion of public debt, and selling its Manhattan National Life.The Carmel, Ind. raised the interest rates on the $1.5 billion bank loan, which is held by a consortium of 51 lenders, 75 basis points. Financial analyst say the move gives the cash-poor financial services firm breathing room to repay investors and stay afloat. The lenders, led by J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp., have also agreed to a proposal to extend the maturity of up to $2.54 billion of Conseco's public bonds. The exchange would postpone $303 million in bond payments due in October by one year and $250 million due in February 2003 by one year.

However, several funds affiliated with New York money manager Angelo, Gordon & Co. filed suit seeking a judgment that could derail Conseco's bank-debt restructuring plan.

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