Henning Holck-Larsen
Henning Holck-Larsen 2008 stamp of India.jpg
Holck-Larsen on a 2008 stamp of India
Born(1907-07-04)4 July 1907
Frederiksberg, Denmark
Died27 July 2003(2003-07-27) (aged 96)
Mumbai, India
Known forFounder of Larsen & Toubro

Henning Holck-Larsen (4 July 1907 – 27 July 2003) was a Danish engineer who co-founded the Indian engineering firm Larsen & Toubro (L&T).

Early life and career

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 Mumbai.[1] Holck-Larsen was a risk-taker while Toubro was more conservative.[2] Larsen and Toubro saw opportunities in India at a time when few Europeans had realised the country's potential for industrial growth.

The first office of L&T, located in Mumbai, was so small that only one of them could use it at 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.

Awards and recognitions


  1. ^ "The Toubro formula". The Hindu. 6 March 2006. Archived from the original on 17 March 2008. Retrieved 13 May 2009.((cite news)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  2. ^ N. Ramakrishnan (4 July 2007). "The engineer behind the giant". The Hindu. Retrieved 13 May 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Evolution of L&T". L&T. Archived from the original on 13 July 2011. Retrieved 13 May 2009.
  4. ^ "L&T co-founder Holck-Larsen dead". The Hindu. 28 July 2003. Archived from the original on 6 November 2003. Retrieved 13 May 2009.((cite news)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  5. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.