With its blockbuster deal for one of the nation's best-known lenders, Conseco Inc. has signaled a renewed desire to diversify beyond its core insurance business.

And though company executives acknowledge they face some substantial challenges in the deal for manufactured-housing lender Green Tree Financial Corp., they say they are confident it will succeed. Carmel, Ind.-based Conseco said last week that it had agreed to buy Green Tree in a stock transaction valued at $7.6 billion.

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