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Banks rescue suicide billionaire's interests

  • Story Highlights
  • German banks rescue suicide billionaire's companies
  • Adolf Merckle was No. 94 on Forbes list of world's richest people
  • Merckle's net worth estimated to be $9.2 billion
  • Billionaire was killed by a train in German town of Ulm
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(CNN) -- Two days after the suicide of one of Germany's richest men -- who was apparently despondent over financial troubles -- banks agreed to rescue his business holdings, the companies said in a statement.

Adolf Merckle, 74, was hit by a train in the southwestern town of Ulm Monday. Details of the incident were unclear, but Ulm police said Merckle was apparently dragged for some time after being struck, as they found blood some distance away from the body.

Merckle's family said that he had been "broken" by the global economic crisis.

But on Wednesday, Merckle's VEM Group said it had reached a rescue agreement with German banks. The business empire includes interests as diverse as cement-maker HeidelbergCement and generic drug-maker Ratiopharm. Under the agreement, VEM Group said, Ratiopharm will be sold.

"Management will do everything in its power to represent the interests of company employees during the sales process," Oliver Windholz, CEO of Ratiopharm, said in a statement. Video Watch a report on Merckle's suicide »

Merckle was No. 94 on the Forbes list of the world's richest people, after having been listed at No. 44 with a fortune of $12.8 billion. But he lost hundreds of millions of dollars, including company capital, betting against Volkswagen stock last year and his worth was listed at $9.2 billion in 2008.

The state government of Baden-Wuerttemberg had rejected his petition for financial assistance.

"The financial troubles of his companies, induced by the international financial crisis and the uncertainty and powerlessness to act independently which the financial problems brought about, broke the passionate family business man, and he took his own life," his family wrote in a press release after Merckle's death.

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A German railroad employee found the body on the tracks at about 7 p.m. Monday night and notified authorities.

Merckle's family had already reported him missing earlier in the day after he walked out of the house and did not return. Authorities are currently conducting DNA tests to confirm his identity.

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen in Germany and Alysen Miller in London, England, contributed to this report.

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