Billionaire Merckle Killed Himself Before Breakup of His Empire
By Aaron Kirchfeld, Jann Bettinga and Caroline Hyde
Jan. 7 (Bloomberg) -- German billionaire Adolf Merckle, whose family holding company amassed about 5 billion euros ($6.7 billion) in debt, committed suicide as bankers proceeded with a plan to start breaking up his business empire.
A bridge loan to the family is in place and Merckle’s death on Jan. 5 won’t affect that funding, three people with direct knowledge of the loan said. They declined to be identified as they’re not authorized to comment. A condition is that banks will take over the Merckles’ majority stake in HeidelbergCement AG, the largest of the family assets, and sell the drugmaker Ratiopharm GmbH, two of the people said.
Merckle, whose estimated $9.2 billion fortune put him 94th on Forbes’s list of the world’s richest people, committed suicide by stepping in front of a train, “broken” as his business empire crumbled under the growing burden of debt, his family said. He had been negotiating emergency financing after the value of his HeidelbergCement stock plunged and bets on Volkswagen AG soured, leaving his companies short of cash.
“Merckle didn’t have any more options to turn around his companies,” said Stefan Mueller, managing partner at Proprietary Partners AG in Frankfurt. “This is very tragic.”
And here’s the latest tragedy:
Real estate power broker dead of apparent suicide
CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) -- One of Chicago's most well-known real estate moguls appears to have shot himself to death, police said.
Steven Good was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot Monday, police said.
The body of Steven L. Good was found in his Jaguar on Monday. The car was spotted in a parking lot of a wildlife preserve in Kane County, Illinois, just outside Chicago, authorities said.
No note was found, and police say they do not know how long the 52-year-old had been in the vehicle.
Good was the chairman and chief executive officer of Sheldon Good & Co., a major U.S. real estate auction company.
The death comes amid great turmoil in the country's real estate industry. In his role as chairman of the Realtors Commercial Alliance Committee, Good commented on tough conditions last month at a business conference.
On a memorial blog set up by the Chicago Association of Realtors, for which Good once served as president, friends and colleagues described him as a gregarious man with a big personality. He was a savvy businessman who built his company into a major national real estate company that did deals with Donald Trump, they said.
No disrespect intended, this is a serious tragedy. No one should be put in the position of self despair over the failings of leadership and a broken monetary system. It’s of our own invention, after all, let’s fix it!
Eric Clapton, Tears in Heaven: