Hans Rausing, Swedish Packaging Magnate, Is Dead at 93


Hans Rausing, the former chief executive and chairman of Tetra Pak, the Swedish packaging company that filled supermarket aisles worldwide with paperboard containers of milk, juice and other products, died on Aug. 30 at his estate in Wadhurst Park, East Sussex, in the south of England. He was 93.

His family confirmed the death in a statement.

Mr. Rausing, whose father, Ruben, founded Tetra Pak, led the company with his brother Gad for more than 30 years as its work force grew from a handful of people in Sweden to some 36,000.

One of the wealthiest people in Britain, Mr. Rausing moved there in 1982 to avoid Sweden’s higher tax rates. In 1994, when he was worth about 9.6 billion pounds, or $15 billion, he was ranked higher on The Times of London’s list of the richest people than the queen of England. He and his family are now estimated by Forbes to be worth about $12 billion.

Mr. Rausing, who rarely gave interviews, had a reputation in England for being frugal, given to driving near his estate in Wadhurst Park in an old Morris Minor car.

In 2001, he told The Daily Mirror that despite being a billionaire, he did not understand money and had no idea how much he had.

He maintained that he “had always felt perfectly happy even without money,” but conceded that “you feel more happy with money than without.”

Nevertheless, his family’s management of its wealth and its tax payments attracted scrutiny in the news media. In 2002, The Guardian ran an investigation into the ways in which Mr. Rausing sought to minimize his tax payments and protect his wealth.

His children’s lives also attracted media attention. Hans Kristian Rausing, his son, struggled with drug addiction. In 2012, he pleaded guilty to the charge of preventing the decent and lawful burial of his wife, Eva. She had died at the couple’s house in London, but her body was not discovered by police until weeks later, after Hans Kristian Rausing was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. (He received a 12-month prison sentence, which was suspended.)

Mr. Rausing’s daughter Sigrid later wrote a book about her brother’s addiction that looked at the relationship between her family’s wealth and his problems.

Mr. Rausing was also a philanthropist. He gave money to a variety of institutions, including Cambridge University, the University of London, the London Library and a community foundation in Sussex, where he lived. In 2006 he donated 100,000 pounds to a Conservative member of Parliament, Oliver Letwin.

“Either you have 20 mistresses covered in diamonds,” Mr. Rausing told The Daily Mirror in 2001, “or you achieve something with your money.”

In 2006 Mr. Rausing was made an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his services to charity and educational institutions.

He was born in Gothenburg, Sweden, on March 25, 1926, to Ruben Rausing, the founder of Tetra Pak, and Elisabeth Varenius.

In 1951 Ruben Rausing backed an invention by the engineer Erik Wallenberg: a tetrahedral paper tube that would allow liquids to be sealed inside without any oxygen and be preserved for longer. This enabled milk and juice to be distributed safely and hygienically with a longer shelf life.

After finishing his studies at the University of Lund, Mr. Rausing joined his father’s company. He later became chief executive and led the company until 1995, when he sold his share to his brother Gad.

When Mr. Rausing became chief executive, the company was selling only tetrahedron-shaped cartons, and annual production of Tetra Pak cartons had not yet reached one billion. By the time he sold his share of the company, more than 76 billion Tetra Pak packages a year were being made globally.

Hans and Gad Rausing Gad expanded the company into other countries and in 1991 bought Alfa-Laval, an engineering company focused on food equipment, creating a packaging conglomerate, the Tetra Laval Group. The Tetra Pak carton now comes in an assortment of shapes and sizes, and more than 189 billion Tetra Pak packages were sold in 2018. The company also sells equipment for keeping food fresh.

After selling his stake in Tetra Laval, Mr. Rausing invested in another Swedish packaging company, Ecolean, which makes lightweight packaging out of chalk and natural gas.

In addition to his children Sigrid and Hans Kristian, Mr. Rausing is survived by his wife, Marit; another daughter, Lisbet; and seven grandchildren. Gad Rausing died in 2000. Another brother, Sven, died in 2003.

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