Although going public is tougher since the crash, selling out isn't: the market for small to midsize, privately held companies is as healthy as ever. Sales of such companies will increase 10% this year, to about 16,500 estimates David Hoods of The Geneva Cos. The most sought-after purchases? Established light manufacturing firms in unglamorous industries like metalworking. "People are taking a look at these old-line companies and realizing that's where a lot of the wealth of this country is created," says James Howard, chairman of Asset Growth Partners Inc.
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