Adolf Merckle (March 18, 1934 – January 5, 2009) was a businessman, and one of the richest people in Germany.
Merckle was born in Dresden, Germany into a wealthy family. Most of his wealth came from inheritance. He developed his Bohemian grandfather's chemical wholesale company into Germany's largest pharmaceutical wholesaler, Phoenix Pharmahandel. His family also owns the generic drug manufacturer Ratiopharm, and large parts of cement company HeidelbergCement as well as vehicle manufacturer Kässbohrer.
He was educated as a lawyer but spent most of his time investing. He lived in Germany with his wife and four children.
Merckle made a speculative investment based on his belief that Volkswagen shares would fall; however, in October 2008, Porsche SE's support of Volkswagen sent shares on the Xetra dax from €210.85 to over €1000 in less than two days, resulting in losses estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars for Merckle.
In 2007 he was worth US$12.8 billion by most estimates (Forbes), and by December 2008 he was worth $9.2 billion, a loss of $3.6 billion. In 2006 he was the world's 44th richest man, dropping to 96th place by December 2008, but still one of Germany's five richest men.
Adolf Merckle committed suicide on January 5, 2009 by throwing himself in front of a train near his hometown of Blaubeuren. It was believed that his cement company was unable to make payments on a huge loan taken out to purchase an English competitor, Hanson