General American Investors Co., New York said Lawrence B. Buttenwieser, a director of the closed-end investment company, has been elected chairman, succeeding Arthur G. Altschul.

Mr. Buttenwieser is a partner with the New York law firm of Rosenman & Colin.

Mr. Altschul, who now becomes chairman emeritus, had succeeded his father as chairman in 1961. In turn his son, Arthur G. Altschul Jr., 31, has been elected to the 16-member board. He is director of corporate affairs of Sugen Inc., a publicly traded biopharmaceutical company in Redwood City, Calif.

General American's president is William J. Gedale.

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