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Lánczy, Leó

(1852–1921), Hungarian banker and business leader. Born in Pest, Leó Lánczy (Lazarsfeld) studied at a commercial school and at the age of 16 worked at the warehouse of the Laczkó and Gomperz Company. He then switched to a banking career, first working for the Anglo-Hungarian Bank. When this institution failed after the 1873 stock market crash, Lánczy became the managing director of the Hungarian General Mortgage Company. Like his brother Gyula (1850–1911), the historian, Lánczy converted to Christianity as a young man.

From 1881 until his death, Lánczy held a similar position at the Hungarian Mercantile and Credit Bank of Pest, and as of 1896 he was president of this institution. There he oversaw the transformation of the bank into a leading financial institution. Its capital increased thirteen-fold between 1880 and 1900 (doubling the growth rate of the average larger Hungarian banks and, indeed, holding 10 per-cent of the full capital of all Hungarian financial institutions). Lánczy also played a prominent role in introducing Hungarian mortgage loans abroad; in establishing a sovereign Hungarian banking sector; and in the industrialization of his country. He helped to found and finance Hungary’s transportation system; the Hungarian District Railways Company, as well, was associated with his name.

Between 1893 and 1901, Lánczy was a member of parliament, and he gained distinction in the area of foreign currency reform. He served as president of the Budapest Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a position he held until 1920. He furthermore participated in creating communal bonds and in establishing the Customs Policy Center.

In 1892, Lánczy was awarded the Order of the Iron Crown. Several years later, the emperor granted him the Grand Cross of the József Ferenc Order for organizing an exhibition commemorating the millennium of Hungary’s founding. In 1900, he was made an Aulic councillor and in 1905 he became a life member of the Upper House. He took part in the so-called delegation selected from the ranks of the legislative body to negotiate with Austria. In 1912, he was awarded the title of privy councillor.

In addition to serving on the board of directors of several financial institutions—among them the Banque Internationale de Bruxelles—Lánczy was a board member of several companies, including the Mining and Smelting Works of Upper Hungary, the First Steam Mill of Budapest Company, the Adria Maritime Navigation Company, and the Rimamurány-Salgótarjáni Iron Works. He was consistently opposed to World War I, but after its onset, he played an important role in shaping the Hungarian economy. His health disintegrated during the reign of the Communist Commune in 1919, and in the end he fled to the provinces.

Suggested Reading

Roland v. Hegedűs, “Leo Lanczy,” Neue freie Presse (Vienna, 27 January 1921); “Leó Lánczy,” Pester Lloyd (Budapest, 27 January 1921).



Translated from Hungarian by Anna Szalai