Porsche, Volkswagen, and CSXCars, Trains, and Derivatives

Family members knew something was very wrong when Adolf Merckle, who had guided the family holding company, VEM Vermögensverwaltung GmbH, through successful investments in dozens of firms in industries from pharmaceutical drugs to cement, left the house one afternoon in January 2009 and failed to return. That night their fears were confirmed when a German railway worker located Merckle’s body near a commuter train line near his hometown of Blaubeuren, about a hundred miles west of Munich.

It was no secret that the financial crisis had taken a toll on Merckle’s investments following his frank comments to the media in 2008. Merckle, known in Germany as a savvy investor, had lost hundreds ...

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