As GM Goes . . .

MEMBERS OF AN EXTREMELY PRIVATE, INVITATION-ONLY NEW York investors group called AEA thought it was a hoot when they persuaded former General Motors chairman ROGER SMITH last year to take over as CEO of one of their investments, a tidy little group of rubber-and-plastics manufacturers with operations in Ohio, Virginia and Georgia. Before long, though, the company was declining fast. Since nobody can bear to fire Smith, investment bankers say the owners are now quietly trying to peddle the firm for far less than they paid for it.

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