Billionaire Merckle Kills Self

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2009 1:31 PM CST
Adolf Merckle.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – German businessman Adolf Merckle, 74, killed himself yesterday in the face of mounting debt and a crumbling multibillion dollar empire, Bloomberg reports. Merckle’s personal fortune of $9.2 billion put him 94th on Forbes' list of the world’s richest people, but his holding company, which owned stake in cement, auto, and drug concerns, was in debt to the tune of $6.7 billion.

Merckle left a note before he threw himself in front of a train near his home, but did not specify why he was committing suicide. Those close to him said his reasons were clear. “His empire was falling apart,” a colleague said. A family statement said Merckle “was broken by his inability to handle the situation.” Merckle’s company was hurt by a bad bet on Volkswagen and the plummeting value of Germany’s largest cement maker; he was seeking restructuring funds at the time of his death.