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Germany's Warren Buffett Commits Suicide

Billionaire Adolf Merckle, known as Germany's Warren Buffett, committed suicide yesterday by throwing himself in front of a train near his home in Blaubeuren, a city northwest of Munich in southern Germany.

Merckle, who was ranked by Forbes as the world's 94th-richest person, had heavy losses on his investments in Volkswagen and HeidelbergCement AG.

Merckle's personal wealth -- which, earlier in the year, was pegged by Forbes at $9.4 billion -- was crushed when he bet badly on a strange shorting ploy that briefly, in late October, made Volkswagen the world's biggest company by value.

Thanks to a complex series of events and confusion about the number of outstanding shares of Volkswagen, a one-day panic among short-sellers pushed the value of VW stock skyward. Like many investors, Merckle had taken a short position in VW and lost millions.

His death comes the same day that the Financial Times Deutschland reported that Merckle had successfully negotiated $547 million in emergency bridge loans to rescue his investment company VEM Vermoegensverwaltung GmbH.

Merckle is at least the second high-profile investor whose suicide has been linked to the ongoing global financial turmoil.

Thierry de la Villehuchet, a hedge fund adviser and investor who lost $1.5 billion investing with $50 billion Ponzi-schemer Bernard Madoff, committed suicide just before Christmas.

-- Frank Ahrens
The Ticker is Twittering!

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 6, 2009; 11:30 AM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bernie Madoff  
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