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Ernesto Tornquist

Ernesto Carlos Tornquist (31 December 1842 17 June 1908) is considered to be one of the most important entrepreneurs in Argentina at the end of the 19th century. The diversified business empire he created played a key role in helping to link Argentina with the trading and financial systems of the first world. Amongst many other achievements, he founded the Tornquist Bank, the Plaza Hotel in Buenos Aires, the partido of Tornquist and Tornquist its main city, in the south of Buenos Aires Province.

Born in Buenos Aires in 1842, Ernesto Tornquist was the seventh son of Jorge Pedro Ernesto Tornquist (1801-1876), a Lutheran born in Baltimore,USA and whose parents came from a German family in the city of Hamburg with roots in Karlskrona in Sweden. The father was consul of the city of Bremen in Montevideo,Uruguay, and was an importer and property investor in Buenos Aires. His mother, Rosa Camusso Alsina, a Catholic, was born in Buenos Aires in 1805 and died there of yellow fever in 1871.

Tornquist started his schooling at Escuela Evangelica Alemana and in 1856 was sent to study in Germany in the city of Krefeld for two years. On his return to Argentina he took up a job working for a company directed by his brother-in-law which exported wool and leather and imported agricultural machinery. In 1872 he married his niece, Rosa Altgelt Tornquist in Buenos Aires, and in 1874 took over the running of his brother-in-laws company which was now renamed, Ernesto Tornquist y Cia. With the help of Belgium capital the company diversified its activities to include investment in the sugar, meat-salting and cold-storage industries. The company also invested in railways and acquired land in the provinces of Santa Fe and Entre Rios, previously occupied by Indians. In the 1880s he set up a large sugar refinery, Refineria Argentina, in Rosario. Other initiatives included founding the Bieckert brewery, the Seeber margarine manufacturer and the Bianchetti scale manufacturer.

Related websites

La pugna Tornquist-Zeballos, Historia General de las Relaciones Exteriores de Argentina, CEMA, 2000

Ernesto Tornquist: Making a Fortune on the Pampas, Harvard Business Publishing, May 1, 2007

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