Ignacio Hernando de Larramendi y Montiano (1921-2001) was a Spanish entrepreneur, cultural patron, Carlist and writer. In the business world he is known for having headed up MAPFRE for many years and today he is considered one of the hundred most influential Spanish businessmen of the 20th century. In the world of culture, his work as patron and promoter of many initiatives related to Hispanic culture is recognised, especially in Latin America, as included in the book Mecenazgo cultural de Ignacio Hernando de Larramendi y Montiano : crónica y testimonios published by the MAPFRE Foundation in 2002; in politics he held some posts in Carlism, but he is best known for his commitment to promoting the legacy of traditionalism. Among the objectives of the Ignacio Larramendi Foundation is the study of the historical influence of Carlism in Spanish society.
Both his father’s family as well as his mother’s belonged to wealthy Basque families, but whose wealth had declined from some generations ago. His paternal grandfather, Mariano Hernando, was a businessman known due to the bullring he built in the Trocadero area of Paris. Ignacio’s father, Luis Hernando de Larramendi (1882-1957), practised as a lawyer in Madrid. He was a Carlist activist and unsuccessful candidate to the Cortes. Between 1919-1921 he briefly headed up Jaimismo and, in the mid 1930’s, he was once again became a Carlism delegate, since he got on very well with the Carlist pretender. He was always concerned with social issues and transferred that interest to his children. During the civil war, he refused to comply with the Unification Decree and retired from politics. His wife and Ignacio’s mother, María de Montiano y Uriarte (1886-1976),was a descendant, among others, of Manuel de Montiano and Agustín de Montiano; however, her closest ancestors partly lived from selling off the family estates; her father was a doctor in Bilbao. She was considered the most beautiful girl of the city, and was proud of her Basque "ethnic group".
The couple lived in calle Velazquez in Madrid. They had 9 children, who were educated in a fervently Catholic environment. After a few years of being educated by a private teacher at home, Larramendi entered the College of Our Lady of Pilar in 1932, although he was not able to finish his studies there because of the Civil War. When the war broke out, the family was in their usual summer destination, in San Sebastian. Luis Larramendi escaped to the nationalist area and returned a few weeks later, when the Carlists had already taken over the city. Ignacio continued his studies with the Marianists in the College of Saint Mary and was able to finish the baccalaureate in 1937; the year he enlisted in an Auxiliary Requeté formation in Fuenterrabia, serving as a prison guard. In July 1938, together with his brother and with the hesitant consent of their parents, he was accepted into the second Radio Company Requeté Campaign, but, because of a conflict with the unit’s lieutenant, at the beginning of 1939 he joined the Tolosa Company of the Guipúzcoa Third of San Miguel. After minor skirmishes, the battalion arrived in Catalonia, on the French border, and at the end of winter he was sent to Extremadura. Again, after some low-intensity fighting, he reached the province of Toledo at the time of the final victory by the nationalist side.
In 1939 Larramendi began his law studies in Madrid and graduated in 1941; although he initially wanted to practice law, in 1944 he was hired by the Directorate General of Insurance. In 1940 he began going out with Lourdes Martínez Gutiérrez (1924-2015), a granddaughter of General Alfredo Gutierrez Chaume; her father, an official of the Treasury, had died when she was very small. The couple married in 1950 and had 9 children born between 1951 and 1965, Carmen, Luis, Coro, Ignacio, Tachi, Carolo, Margarita, Miguel and Ramón.
When Ignacio was just 10 years old he was already involved in politics. In 1931, Larramendi distributed his father’s Carlist election brochures. In addition he was enlisted in the Requeté during the Civil War. He joined the Agrupación Escolar Tradicionalista, where he became the "Chief of Madrid in exile". Back in the capital, he participated actively in the local organisation of the Agrupación Escolar Tradicionalista (AET) and emerged as one of its most active leaders. Together with a group of peers with a similar vocation, of which the best known wereRafael Gambra and Francisco Elías de Tejada, whose works were edited digitally by the Ignacio Larramendi Foundation, he organised small semi-private demonstrations against Franco, until he was arrested in 1942and put in charge of the General Directorate of Security. His most notable activity was with the Vázquez de Mella Academy, a private Carlist type educational initiative of Máximo Palomar; his experience made Larramendi strengthen his inclination for social issues and culture replacing his political dimension.
After the Academy disappeared in the mid1940’s, there was no official or semi-official Carlist structure in Madrid; internal political problems and dynastic fragmentation contributed to the movement’s crisis. During this period, Larramendi, influenced by Elias de Tejada and by his own father, chose to favour Dom Duarte and the Braganza as the most legitimate candidates to the throne, although in early 1950’s he was already a strong supporter of the Borbón-Parma. After a brief and moderately successful episode, the launch in 1951 of the traditionalist publishing house Cálamo, at the beginning of the1950’s he was known in the Carlist movement for being a young, vehemently anti-Franco militant and loyal to the dynasty. He was one of the intransigent followers of the Carlist leader Manuel Fal Conde, the so-called Falcondistas, although he did not reach the highest levels in the movement. He was not among the attendees to the first royal presentation of the claimant Don Javier in Barcelona in 1952, although, without a doubt, the position of his father, who at that time was one of the organisers of Don Javier’s campaign, helped him to enter the Carlist government circles of the time.
It seems that soon Larramendi’s anti-Francoist position exceeded that of Fal; in the mid1950's he was one of the "duros" or "Guipuzcoanos", an internal faction who complained that the party's official line was leaning in favour of Franco; others considered him a member of the "intellectuals” faction, also opposed to Fal’s "integrist" group. When the internal crisis reached its peak, in the mid 1950’s, Fal was forced to resign and the Basques and those from Navarra suggested that Larramendi became a member of the Secretariado Político, a newly created body which aimed to help the new leader José Maria Valiente. The plan was to support Don Javier’s aspirations to the throne, but the attempt failed, as the new executive secretary of the party was dominated by supporters of replacing intransigence with a collaborating offer to Franco. Larramendi resigned when the new Secretariat made contact with the Falange proposing a joint action. His career in the executive lasted only a few months.
Larramendi remained active in the Carlist structures and participated in their public initiatives. In the annual event of Montejurra in1957, Larramendi was among the authorities of the party when they presented Don Carlos Hugo as an heir to the throne. Larramendi was somewhat sceptical and feared that the prince was tempted to follow a collaborationist line; that same year, Larramendi was key in promoting dissent in the Madrid AET organisation, which deposed its leader and main promoter of Don Carlos Hugo, Ramón Massó, due to compromising the traditionalist identity and defending the rapprochement to the regime.
At the end of the 1950’s, Larramendi worked with the Carlist structures in Madrid, which involved collaboration with the prince’s entourage, who established their headquarters in the capital. The discrepancies continued and resulted in two factions, the pro-collaborationists and the anti-collaborationists. Massó, promoter of the first and Larramendi’s former colleague during the Academia years, believed that he was the representative of the "purest traditionalist orthodoxy". In the early years of the 1960's Larramendi continued frequenting Montejurra every year, although more with his children than with the official executive. In the mid-1960s, and he hardly participated in the life of the party, especially after his friends Gambra and Elias de Tejada broke away from Communion in 1963 as it was taking an increasingly. When the conflict came to a climax at the end of the 1960’s, Larramendi was more a witness than a participant. As Carlos Hugo’s defenders were changing their pro-Falangist penchant to a more belligerent anti-Fancoism, his first doubts vanished turning into a concern about the radically Marxist turn of the prince. What did not ever change was his loyalty to the dynasty; shortly before the expulsion of Don Javier in 1969, Larramendi went to the King’s residence in Madrid, Villa Covadonga, with all his family.
With the passing of the years, it was seen that Carlos Hugo’s defenders were not a majority and there were many clashes when addressing the future. In 1970 Larramendi was elected by the Carlists of Madrid to participate as an arbitrator in the meeting to be held in Arbonne. He was considered as a representative of the traditionalists but without having taken part in the party's internal struggles, so he seemed like a somewhat neutral candidate and in fact adopted a conciliatory posture. In what seemed like a distant echo of the pro-social writings of his father, Larramendi stated that with regards to socialist orientation Carlism had to act instead of talking and that he was the first to be willing to do this. He assumed his position as the leader of a company, but the majority of those present considered that it was a commitment to Don Carlos Hugo. He soon proved otherwise; Larramendi stayed out of the newly created the Carlist Party and in 1975 he addressed his king, Don Javier, in a joint letter, demanding the confirmation of the Traditionalist principles. When the claimant abdicated in favour of his son, the traditionalists addressed another letter to Don Carlos Hugo; Larramendi was not among the signatories of this letter or the next, which led to the final break with the new claimant to the throne. In the mid-1990s 70, he timidly approached the Sixtinos, but left his political activity after the death of Franco.
Larramendi was working in the Directorate General of Insurance until 1952 and made some trips to London to get to know the British market. When he left the Directorate General of Insurance in 1952, he joined the Royal Insurance Company to head up its Madrid office. In 1955, following a disagreement with its managers, he returned to the Directorate General of Insurance again, albeit for a few months and that same year joined MAPFRE, a medium-sized private mutual insurance company. At that time the company was on the verge of bankruptcy and the recruitment of Larramendi as director general was part of its introduction of a sanitation programme. Larramendi renegotiated a long-term debt repayment period with the General Council of Colleges of Pharmacists in Spain, closed some branches and simplified ongoing operations, which allowed the Mutual Insurance Company to get out of the red and return to profit at the end of the1950’s. Over the years, Larramendi designed new growth plans.
When compulsory health insurance was introduced, Larramendi set up the MAPFRE Employers Mutual Insurance Company for Work-related Accidents. At the beginning of the 1960’s, he encouraged the development of a financial branch, in order to merge insurance with credit and create a combined offer for car buyers; the plan was carried out in 1962 with the purchase of Central de Obras y Crédito and proved to be a success in the Spanish car market, which was growing very quickly. Another important strategic move was the creation of Muinsa, an investment company that was aimed at finding a way to invest in spite of the restrictive regulations that limited the investment activities of insurance companies. This was soon followed by other specialised investment companies, Muinsa Dos, PROGESA and Mapinco, and, in the 1960’s, the mutual insurance company began to change the format of some of its structures in order to convert them into joint stock companies.
In 1969 Larramendi designed the first major restructuring of the company which was materialized in 1970. The MAPFRE group was created as a result of its application, composed of MAPFRE Mutualidad as the parent company specialised in the field of car insurance and two public limited company subsidiaries: MAPFRE Industrial, focused on general insurance, and MAPFRE Vida, dedicated to life insurance. The scheme worked well and consisted of a corporate structure based on the functional autonomy of different companies, but where a series of common services were taken advantage of. Thanks to the boom in car sales at the beginning of the 1970’s, the group became the market leader in car insurance. Larramendi’s positron as director general was so strong that when there was a conflict with the Board’s chairman, it was the latter who had to leave his post in 1972. His role in the company changed in 1975, the date where he went from being director general to CEO, remaining a key figure in the company.
In the mid 1970’s the world economy went through a period of crisis that affected Spain and MAPFRE. Larramendi responded with another reorganisation in 1978 that was based on the creation of Corporación MAPFRE as holding company (holding) and the reduction of the shares in controlled companies. The plan was a temporary solution and in 1983 the MAPFRE System was created, where the mutual insurance company remained the owner of the majority of shares and controlled all the subsidiary companies through the Corporation. The plan emphasised the division into three major areas: transport, various risks and reinsurance and life. Once the crisis was over, the group recovered its dynamics, and in 1983 MAPFRE became the leader of the Spanish insurance market.
Already in 1969 Larramendi had made the decision to start the expansion outside of Spain; although several possibilities were considered, from the outset, he had his eye on the American continent. At the beginning of the 1970’s, the company, through the MAPFRE Publishing House, embarked on a public relations campaign, while Larramendi himself spent time travelling the continent, making sure that Argentina was the most promising market and Colombia the "most Spanish” country. At the end of the1970’s, the company was looking for the most suitable formula for expansion; on the one hand, in 1976 MAPFRE International was created, which directly accessed many markets in South America, and on the other hand, some reinsurance conglomerates were formed with Belgian and Dutch companies. But these strategies did not work that well. The most successful strategy was the acquisition of local entities and the use of reinsurance as a battering ram to enter local markets. Following the acquisitions of Seguros Caribe (Colombia), Aconcagua (Argentina) and other companies, at the end of the 1980’s, MAPFRE began to hold an important role in the continent. The quick response of the company before the 1985 earthquake in Mexico also made the group gain prestige and recognition. In 1998 the company became the reinsurance market leader in Latin America and the first foreign company in general. In the Latin American market MAPFRE participated in 10 companies before 1990 and in 22 after that date.
During Larramendi’s tenure MAPFRE only managed to develop a testimonial business in Europe. After various market simulations, it came to the conclusion that, although it has a key role to play in Spain, the company was not in a position to compete at full scale with larger German, Dutch or French conglomerates in the EC, especially after a prior investment in Progress, a Sicilian company, which was intended to mark the beginning of the expansion in Italy, ended up being a fiasco. At some point, MAPFRE thought of entering Japan, but the expansion plans to the Far East were diluted and were reduced to carrying out some business in Hong Kong and Macau.
In 1985 Larramendi changed his position as chief executive officer for that of the chairman of the committee on institutional control, although he remained at the helm. At the end of 1980, he co-designed another plan, the Plan called the MAPFRE System. Two key entities, MAPFRE Mutualidad and Corporación MAPFRE, remained the two pillars. All the business was restructured in accordance with the logic that was gaining popularity among the moguls of the time and following theJapanese zaibatsu model; its main feature was the conversion of the clusters of multiple companies in federative schemes with a high degree of autonomy of its components. In 1990 the company returned to putting an emphasis on its banking division and created Banco MAPFRE, the core of the credit system. That same year, after turning 70, Larramendi resigned from all his positions in the company except in the international business, where it remained active until 1995, thus respecting the rules that he himself had drawn up and implemented. When he left the company, MAPFRE had 1,648 branches, 4,500 direct employees and 12,000 indirect employees, consolidated assets of 500 million pesetas and annual profits of 200 million pesetas.
Larramendi is among the 100 most influential Spanish businessmen of the 20th century. When asked about his business success, Larramendi used to point out factors related to human resources and mainly referred to the internal code of conduct which the same brought and that at that time there was nothing common in companies. This code was responsible for the emergence of a new breed of employees, the so-called mafristas. The code is supposed to reflect the moral values that he defended, firstly regarding mutual respect, transparency, and integrity. He also highlighted the importance of delegating, a decentralised management and to respond to what he called the anarchy of individual initiatives and ideas, this model is now contained in change management manuals as an "emergent change" as opposed to "planned change".
In fact, many historians of the business world agree in Larramendi’s approach where the human factor was key. He imported mechanisms that he had learned in Great Britain and the United States and introduced modern human resources management with promotions within the company, training plans, supervision, guidance and other techniques, without forgetting his preference for hiring people who had just finished their university studies. This was part of his general mentality, which is now common in today's managers but that was not so then, and focused on all stakeholders (employees, owners, customers, suppliers and all persons affected) and not just on shareholders. It has also been confirmed that decentralized management with regional general addresses instead of provincial delegates and the total responsibility of the management without crossed liabilities, contributed to the internal efficiency of the operations. He is credited with the development of a business model called "specialised diversification", which allows priority to be given to the client, reducing the administrative workload and increasing the economy of scale with the use of numerous shared services.
Larramendi is also considered responsible for introducing a number of features in Spain, which are specific to insurance and financial markets, whether new products, such as travel assistance plans for motorists or assistance programmes in the home for property owners, whether new corporate techniques such as risk management, the expansion of the scope of activities to entirely new areas or a new concept of strategic relationship with the client for "one-stop shopping of financial products". He attached great importance to the availability of accurate and accessible information, verging almost on obsession, which made MAPFRE leader in technological terms and it became the second company in Spain to introduce the telex and in one of the first to adopt digital data storage techniques on a large scale.
MAPFRE’s success in Latin America is considered a faithful reflection of the eclectic paradigm theory of John Dunning, with the advantages of ownership, local presence and internationalisation combined and exploited to the maximum. Another concept that is referred to is the intangible assets theory of Richard E. Caves; in the case of Larramendi it would be the selection of risks (with emphasis on direct insurance, reinsurance and assistance), the management of human resources and, above all, banking on cultural proximity, which permitted MAPFRE to overtake its competitors, especially those in the US. He received numerous national and international awards, for example the Gold Medal of the International Insurance Seminar Founder's Award (1986) and the Gold Spanish Insurance Gold Medal (1987).
In accordance with its corporate social responsibility concept, in the 1970’s already Larramendi participated in various non-profit initiatives; in 1975 he created the MAPFRE Foundation, to promote safety in the workplace and to support recovery programmes after an accident; which were followed by the Mapfre Vida Cultural Foundation(1988), the Mapfre America Foundation(1988), the MAPFRE Studies Foundation (1989), the Mapfre Medicine Foundation (1989) and the MAPFRE Guanarteme Foundation. When he retired, Larramendi devoted himself entirely to their activities, focusing primarily on the MAPFRE America Foundation. Its main initiative was the launch of the Mapfre 1492 Collections, a set of 19 series, each with various publications and focused on a specific topic, for example, indigenous languages or urban centres; each volume published was submitted to numerous institutions of Latin American countries and in other parts. Another of his initiatives was the reissue of historical documents and the sponsorship of conferences, seminars and international Americanist programmes, often in collaboration with UNESCO.
In the 1990's, Larramendi was the co-founder and the spirit of the Tavera Historical Foundation, which later was merged with the MAPFRE Tavera Foundation and later in the MAPFRE Foundation, which prolongs the activity of the Institute with the same name and is dedicated to protecting the bibliographic and documentary heritage of Spain, Portugal and Latin America. The Foundation embarked on a series of digitization projects, programmes to support bibliographical and referential initiatives, cataloguing and cooperation in archiving with various civil and ecclesiastical institutions. The Institute also published some digital series under the common title of Tavera Classics, and each covered a single historical theme such as Latin America, regional histories, bibliographies etc. Its activity was later transferred to the REFMAP Reference Centre and Digital Publications Centre, which later came to be called DIGIBIS.
Another of Larramendi’s branches of patronage activity was related to Carlism. He contributed financially in various editorial initiatives related to Carlism, especially with the Aportes magazine. In honour of his father, in 1986 he created the Hernando de Larramendi Foundation, which currently operates as the Ignacio Larramendi Foundation, whose stated mission is to promote "charity in social relations" in line with Catholic doctrine, to act as an independent think tank, studying the history of Carlism and supporting non-profit scientific research. The most important initiatives of the Foundation are related to the dissemination of Carlist ideas and the promotion of Carlist studies. It continues to release digitized collections of traditionalist theorists, it especially publishes academic works, but also sometimes literary work, within theLuis Hernando de Larramendi Collection and awards the International Prize for Carlism History of Luis Hernando de Larramendi, with the aim of "supporting books that provide objective knowledge for truth, not falsified truth, not sectarian truth, but just the truth." The Foundation also maintains a web site with a series of digitized works and press cuttings available.
The Spanish state recognised Larramendi’s cultural patronage work by granting various awards, among which should be highlighted Order of Merit of Isabel La Católica (1996) and the Grand Cross of the Order of Civil Merit (1998).
Larramendi is the author of eight books and over 200 articles, the majority in specialist publications. A large part of them are related to business, among which is the Manual básico de seguros (1981). However, readers often find his social and political essays more interesting.
Tres claves de la vida inglesa (1951) was the result of Larramendi’s stay in London. The book formally discusses legal systems, commercial and insurance and praises the British social and state model. It was acclaimed for merging order and the efficient economic organisation, on the one hand, and traditional values and structures on the other. The British system is seen as a balanced system, especially compared with the French model, derived from bureaucratic illusions with regard to the state and its powers to build a new order. Larramendi maintained his fascination with the British sense of continuity and the intermediary institutions that operate between the state and society until the end of his life. Tres claves de la vida inglesa stands out as an anomaly within the Carlist usually anti-British thought, which considers the perfidious Albion as a hotbed of liberalism, plutocracy, freemasonry and greed.
In 1977 Larramendi published Anotaciones de sociopolítica independiente to talk about the post-Franco regime in Spain. The work was a non-belligerent discussion of a catholic social vision. In practical terms it vaguely proposes a hybrid regime with some regulatory mechanisms that operate as checks and balances against a policy based on universal suffrage, considering most of the institutions of the Franco regime as useless. The Franco regime in general is seen with mixed feelings, as a system that guaranteed peace and socio-economic transformation, but was riddled with corruption and revenge. In favour of Spanish integration within Western European structures, it also proposes "the Great European white race and Christian heritage" as a political entity for the 21st century. A theme that is repeated several times is the concern with the penetration of communism in Spain, although the book recognises socialism, in its "non-maximalist” reincarnations as a possible option to be taken into account.
In 1992, Larramendi publishes Utopía de la Nueva América, a result of his fascination with the American continent; the key thesis was that Latin America and Anglo-America be combined to create a new cultural entity. In the mid 1990's, he begins his opus magnum, a series of five volumes, conceived as a response to the perceived threats of global imbalance, disintegration of Europe and fragmentation of Spain; it was supposed to advance a proposed “operating reform of the Spanish State” but also to resolve problems of a general nature. The series finally ended up in three books, of almost 750 pages in total: Crisis de sociedad: reflexiones para el siglo XXI (1995), Panorama para una reforma del estado (1996) and Bienestar solidario (1998). They were all holistic and at the same time quite detailed attempts, to redefine the main public institutions in line with the vision of Christian solidarity; Crisis de sociedad tends to be a more historical and theoretical book, Panorama para una reforma del estado discusses key state operating areas, while Bienestar solidario focuses on major public structures, especially those related to education, work and insurance.
His most popular book was Así se hizo MAPFRE (2000), where he talks about the history of the company with a fairly wide background of his personal life and of the overall social and business environment.
Finally, the introduction to the FHLVirtual Libraries published in Madrid in 2001 and reprinted in 2002 and enlarged and corrected in 2005 and 2008 contains a declaration of principles where it exposes the why of the FHL Virtual Libraries and where it says:
1. Regardless of the cultural, historical and humanistic issues, this plan is important due to its use of modern technology and is an advance over other similar ones perhaps from over the world. Its axis will be the FHL Virtual Libraries, in which these objectives re integrated.
2. Their objectives are inspired in those I have had during my whole business and institutional life, and on my family’s action principles.
3. The contributions of the Hernando de Larramendi Foundation should be considered as seed money for the incorporation of institutions around the world.
4. This project personally assures me unlimited activity in a socially useful work, whilst I retain the capacity to do so.
5. I give thanks to God for the opportunity to provide financial assistance with this purpose, as a result of my effort and business career, which for the most part I destine to this foundation.
Ignacio Hernando de Larramendi y Montiano died on 7 September 2001.