London’s financial centre is in shock after a millionaire New Zealander, apparently haunted by the pressures of dealing with the credit crunch, threw himself in front of an express train.
The New Zealand financier, Kirk Stephenson, 47, who was married with an eight-year-old son, died under the wheels of a 160kmh express train at Taplow railway station, Berkshire, the Daily Mail newspaper reported.
British Transport Police said Stephenson threw himself in front of the Plymouth to Paddington train.
The newspaper said Stephenson is believed to have taken his own life after succumbing to mounting personal pressures as the world’s financial markets continue their meltdown.
He had breakfast with his wife, Karina Robinson, as successful financial writer, and son Lucas, before killing himself. He is survived by his wife and son, and his mother Bet Stephenson.
Stephenson, who arrived in London in 1983 as a trainee at merchant banker SG Warburg went on to work at several large organisations, and worked for financier Olivant Advisers. He was paid STG333,000 ($NZ907,356) last year, but is thought to have made millions more from the core Olivant business, based in Guernsey. Stephenson owned STG3.6 million($NZ9.8 million), five-storey house in Chelsea and a holiday home in the West Country, and was chief operating officer of Olivant Advisers.
Last year, the private equity firm tried to buy a 15 per cent stake worth almost STG1billion in Northern Rock before the bank was nationalised, bidding against Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson. In June, the company secured a 2.5 per cent stake in Swiss banking giant UBS.
There had been persistent speculation in the financial world that UBS has written off billions after being exposed to the US mortgage market, the Daily Mail reported.
Since June, the bank has dropped in value by about 20 per cent, which means the value of Olivant’s stake in UBS has fallen from STG950million to STG770million.
Sources stressed that neither Stephenson nor his company had financial problems that would have led him to take his own life, but said he had “succumbed to the stress and responsibilities of his taxing role.