A `Construction King' Abdicates

German real estate developer Jurgen Schneider has apparently skipped town, leaving behind debts as high as an estimated $4.8 billion and zapping share prices of major creditors. Worried that they may have made mortgage loans on inflated collateral prices, his bankers, including giant Deutsche Bank, planned to meet on Apr. 14 to sort out Schneider's finances. Meanwhile, irate, unpaid subcontractors loaded up trucks with materials from building sites. Aside from potentially hitting their balance sheets, creditors fret that the disappearance of Germany's "Construction King," as he is known, could give the German real estate market a whack.

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