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Tata Motors' Troubles Go Well Beyond Top Exec's Shocking Death

Karl Slym, managing director of Tata Motors speaks during an event in Pune, India, on June 19
Karl Slym, managing director of Tata Motors speaks during an event in Pune, India, on June 19Photograph by Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

India’s biggest automaker suffered a major loss on Sunday with the death of Managing Director Karl Slym, head of Tata Motors’ domestic operations. He fell to his death at the Shangri-La Hotel in Bangkok, where he was attending a company meeting, and police are investigating the case as an apparent suicide.

The death of Slym, who was 51, comes at a time when Tata Motors is struggling to reverse a slide in India. Sales at home plunged 42 percent in December and dropped 31 percent for the year, the company announced on Jan. 3. Overseas performance slumped, too, although foreign markets weren’t as weak as domestic sales. Tata Motors exports fell 27 percent in December and 8 percent for all of 2013.