Henning Holck-Larsen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Henning Holck-Larsen
Born (1907-07-04)July 4, 1907
Frederiksberg, Denmark
Died July 27, 2003(2003-07-27) (aged 96)
Mumbai, India
Nationality Danish
Known for Co-founder of Larsen & Toubro

Henning Holck-Larsen (July 4, 1907 Frederiksberg, Denmark – July 27, 2003 Mumbai) was a Dane who co-founded the Indian engineering firm (L&T).

Early life and career[edit]

Henning Holck-Larsen was educated at the University of Copenhagen (and what is now the Technical University of Denmark). He came to India in 1937 as a chemical engineer working for F. L. Smidth & Co. of Copenhagen. Partnering with his former schoolmate and fellow employee Søren Kristian Toubro, he set up Larsen & Toubro in 1938. The idea of L&T was conceived during a holiday in Matheran, a hill station near Bombay.[1] Holck-Larsen was a risk-taker while Toubro was more conservative.[2] Larsen and Toubro saw opportunities in India at time, when few Europeans had realised the country's potential for industrial growth.

The first office of L&T, located in Bombay, was so small that only one of them could use it a time.[3] Initially, L&T represented Danish dairy equipment manufacturers. However, the Danish imports were restricted during the World War II, forcing L&T to start a small workshop that provided servicing and undertook small jobs. The imports stopped after the German invasion of Denmark, forcing L&T to start manufacturing dairy equipment indigenously, a move that was successful.[3]

Seeing opportunity in ship repair during wartime, Larsen and Toubro formed a new company called Hilda Ltd. Around this time, L&T also started two repair and fabrication shops. The internment of German engineers who were supposed to build a soda ash plant for the Tatas provided L&T another new opportunity.[3]

In 1944, Larsen and Toubro established Engineering Construction & Contracts (ECC). L&T started collaborating with international companies around this time. In 1945, it signed an agreement with the Caterpillar Tractor Company of USA for marketing earthmoving equipment. L&T also started representing British manufacturers of equipment used to manufacture a variety of products including biscuits, glass, hydrogenated oils and soaps.[3] At the end of the World War II, the war-surplus Caterpillar equipment were available in bulk at low prices. However, L&T lacked the money to purchase them. Therefore, Larsen and Toubro decided to raise additional equity capital, and as a result, Larsen & Toubro Private Limited was established on 7 February 1946.[3] After India gained independence in 1947, L&T set up offices in Calcutta, Madras and New Delhi.

Larsen and Toubro gradually transformed L&T into a large business house with diverse interests, and went on to become one of the most successful Indian companies.

After retirement, Holck-Larsen served as the chairman emeritus of the company. He used to call India his "adopted homeland" and divided his time between Denmark and India.[4]

He died in 2003 at the Breach Candy hospital, Mumbai after a prolonged illness, having spent time in intensive care. He is survived by a daughter, Jeannette Arnold, who in turn has two children, his only grandchildren Lucy and Toby Findlay.

Awards and recognitions[edit]

  • Ramon Magsaysay Award for International Understanding (1976)
  • Knighthood from Queen Margrethe II of Denmark (1977)
  • Sir Jehangir Ghandy Medal for Industrial Peace (1980)
  • Chemtech Foundation's Chemical Industry Stalwart Award (2000)
  • Bombay Management Association's Lifetime Achievement Award (2001)
  • Citation from the Indo-European Union Business Summit for promoting business beyond boundaries (2002)
  • Padma Bhushan (2002) for contribution to Indian industry.[5]
  • India Post issued a commemorative postage stamp of Rs 5.00 on 12th June 2008

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Toubro formula". The Hindu. 6 March 2006. Retrieved 2009-05-13. 
  2. ^ N. Ramakrishnan (4 July 2007). "The engineer behind the giant". The Hindu. Retrieved 2009-05-13. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Evolution of L&T". L&T. Archived from the original on 2011-07-13. Retrieved 2009-05-13. 
  4. ^ "L&T co-founder Holck-Larsen dead". The Hindu. 28 July 2003. Retrieved 2009-05-13. 
  5. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 15, 2014. Retrieved July 21, 2015.