A new player with a long and unusual history, Enstar Group Inc., may soon arrive on the bank merger scene.

Eight years ago Enstar was facing disaster. The company's 1980s junk bond-financed buying spree meant it simultaneously owned a 49% stake in a thrift, plus child care centers, shoe stores, and assorted other businesses. After the junk bond market collapsed in 1990, the former CEO was sentenced to prison for securities fraud, the company's stock was canceled, and liquidation seemed imminent.

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