Erling Sven Lorentzen was born in Oslo, Norway on January 28, 1923 as the son of a Norwegian commercial shipping line owner. In 1948, he received a Masters degree in Business Administration from Harvard Business School.
During World War II, he was commander of a secret Norwegian resistance unit and after the war he became body guard for the royal family. In 1953, Lorentzen settled in Brazil with his wife Princess Ragnhild of Norway and established various businesses and gradually focused on forest plantation activities. In 1968, Aracruz Florestal began planting the eucalyptus forests in Brazil that would provide the raw material for the future pulp mill. In 1972, Aracruz Celulose was established and Lorentzen was named President and Chairman of the Board.
Between 1967 and 1975, Lorentzen inexorably cajoled and kept pushing the pulp mill project forward and after the financial engineering studies were concluded, the US$600 million construction project began in 1975. Pulp production started in early 1978.
Under his leadership, the production doubled to one million tons of pulp per year in 1991and doubled again in 2002. In 2003, the Riocell pulp mill in Rio Grande do Sul was purchased and renamed Aracruz Guaiba Unit. Lorentzen was instrumental in Aracruz becoming equal partners with Stora Enso in the Veracel Project in Bahia, to produce 900,000 tons of pulp per year. The cost of the project was US$1.24 billion; pulp production started in 2005.
Lorentzen’s stimulating technical development and promotion of the use of eucalyptus fiber led to improved quality in printing and writing papers and to the family of sanitary tissue papers. His fostering of research efforts in developing highly productive and safe commercial eucalyptus forests resulted in being awarded the 1984 Marcus Wallenberg prize. In addition, Lorentzen is the recipient of numerous honors and awards for his war contributions in Norway and his business and civic contributions in Brazil. He currently serves as member or chairman of the Board of an impressive number of organizations focusing on sustainable forest development worldwide.
Lorentzen championed the cause of sustainable development as an inherent part of business strategy. At his suggestion, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development conducted a study on global forests and published results in 1996 under the title, “Towards a Sustainable Paper Cycle” which became a source for considerable continuing analysis. He also made sure that his company made contributions to the social development of Brazil.
Erling Lorentzen resides in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. His wife of nearly 60 years, Her Highness Princess Ragnhild, Mrs. Lorentzen, died on September 16, 2012.