Kolkata: Kolkata-based industrialist Jit Paul, who co-founded the Apeejay Surrendra Group, died at his Kolkata home on Wednesday. Paul, 86, was battling cancer. He is survived by his brothers Swraj and Stya, nephew Karan — who heads the Apeejay Surrendra Group — and niece Priya and Preeti.
Apeejay Surrendra Group claims to be the biggest family-owned business conglomerate in India. Its business interests straddle tea, shipping, real estate and hotels.
Born in Jalandhar in Punjab, Paul moved to Kolkata in 1951 to expand his family’s steel business, which he joined at the age of 15. Under Paul’s leadership the family soon emerged as the biggest importer of steel in India. The Pauls imported steel mostly from Eastern Europe and erstwhile Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or USSR.
In the mid-1950s, the Paul family entered shipping with the launch of Surrendra Overseas Ltd. In the 1960s, the family entered a number of other businesses such as real estate, hotels and pharmaceuticals. In the 1980s, the Pauls entered tea by acquiring Assam Frontier Tea Co Ltd and two other firms registered in the UK. The Apeejay Surrendra Group is one of the biggest players in tea now.
In 1989, the family’s assets were divided. Brothers Swraj and Stya moved to London and Delhi, respectively, while Paul and his youngest brother Surrendra continued to live in Kolkata and work together.
Friends remember Paul as a philanthropic man, who lived a very simple life.