Imagine looking up at seven cents on the dollar.

That's what the holders of Greater Atlantic Financial Corp.'s trust-preferred shares are doing. In lieu of outright failure, the Reston, Va., thrift is preparing to sell itself to a private-equity firm. But before it can close the sale, Greater Atlantic must buy back the vast majority of its $9.6 million of trust-preferred shares — at a 93% discount. Observers said that, faced with a wipeout otherwise, trust-preferred holders might well accept the deal.

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