Former Chicago Board of Trade chairman dead at 78

Daily Herald Staff Report
Updated 2/11/2016 5:34 AM

Karsten "Cash" Mahlmann of Barrington Hills and former chairman of the Chicago Board of Trade from 1987-1990, died Monday. He was 78.

Mahlmann grew professionally from being a runner at the Chicago Board of Trade to chairman of the futures exchange, and later retired with a Chicago brokerage firm.


In 1957, the 20-year-old son of a Hamburg, Germany, grain merchant boarded a freighter in his native Germany to travel to the United States. He settled in Chicago and lived at the Lawson YMCA.

He began working as a runner at the Chicago Board of Trade for the brokerage firm of Daniel Rice & Co. He eventually became a clerk in the cash grain department of Shearson Hayden, where he earned the nickname "Cash" by buying and selling the actual corn and wheat rather than futures contracts, according to an obituary on the Smith-Corcoran Funeral Home website.

Mahlmann bought his first seat on the Board of Trade and joined the family-run commodities firm Stotler Group in 1963. He then became chairman of CBOT 1987 and later made several trips to Washington, D.C., where he helped convince Congress to reauthorize the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, an independent federal agency responsible for regulating commodity futures and options markets in the U.S. He also worked his way up to become chairman of Stotler Group. Afterward, Mahlmann moved to London, where he helped to merge the Rosenthal Collins Group London office into a trading firm later acquired by ING. He expanded the combined firm, named ING Derivatives Ltd., by building a franchise among London options traders.

Mahlmann returned to Chicago in the mid-1990s and worked as a managing director for MF Global, a financial derivatives broker in Chicago, until he retired in 2008.

Mahlmann is survived by his wife Dorie and children Conor, Peter, Kathleen and Christopher. Visitation is Thursday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Smith-Corcoran Funeral Home, 185 E. Northwest Hwy. in Palatine.

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