I woke up Monday morning to the sad news that Behrouze Bhai (Mirza Ali Behrouze Ispahani) was no more. He passed away at Apollo Hospital (Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un) at 5:30 a.m. He was 67.
He was suffering from diabetes and heart-related complications and took treatment in Singapore, Bangkok and India several times.
To all of us in The Financial Express, he was one of the nicest, caring and loving personalities. He used to visit our office very often and enquired about everybody's wellbeing. Sometimes, he took many of us to lunch in nearby restaurants.
He used to remember almost every small detail and maintained constant contact with his near and dear ones. When any of his friends was in trouble, he tried to help him in every possible manner. In the media circle, he was very popular for his charming and charismatic behaviour. He was a source of inspiration to everybody. He always inspired the talented ones to grow in their respective fields.
It was unique about him that he never forgot to wish his friends and relatives on their birthdays or any other special occasions. In fact, he never needed a calendar to remember those days.
According to his family history, Mr Behrouze, born on October 30, 1950, was a member of a Perso-Bengali business family in Bangladesh which owns and manages the Ispahani Group, one of the country's leading conglomerates. Originally hailing from Ispahan, Iran, the family had settled in Bengal for more than a century.
Haji Mohammed Hashem, the founder of the Ispahani group, moved from Ispahan in Persia to Mumbai in 1820 and established his business. The family business subsequently expanded to include a broad range of businesses stretching from Mumbai in the west to Madras in the south and Burma in the east which until 1937 was part of British-India.
His grandson Haji Mirza Mehdy Ispahani moved the corporate headquarters to Madras. He also spent 12 years in Cairo expanding his trading in leather, tea, turmeric, tamarind, peanuts and other produce of India. He opened a branch office in Dhaka in 1888. His son Mirza Mohamed Ispahani established the Calcutta office of MM Ispahani & Sons in 1900, when a branch office was also established in London.
Mirza Ahmad Ispahani, the eldest son of Mirza Mohamed Ispahani, joined the business in 1918 and established the private limited company, M.M. Ispahani Limited in 1934 in Kolkata along with his younger brothers Mirza Abol Hassan Ispahani and Haji Mirza Mahmood Ispahani.
The final move was made in 1947 with the shifting of the corporate headquarters to Chittagong in the newly created East Pakistan. The company continued to operate as a foreign company in Calcutta until 1965 when its operations in India were taken over by the Indian government.
It was under the visionary leadership of Mirza Ahmad Ispahani that the company rapidly expanded its business. By 1947, MM Ispahani Limited was a large exporter of shellac, kapok, hessian, jute bags, tea and chemicals. In 1948, Mirza Ahmad Ispahani left the family business for public service. His son Mirza Mehdy Ispahani, popularly known as Sadri Ispahani, was made chairman of M.M. Ispahani Limited in 1949 and remained in that post until he died in 2004, when his son Mirza Ali Behrouze Ispahani was elected chairperson of M.M. Ispahani Limited and its sister concerns.
The company has now corporate offices in Chittagong, Dhaka and Khulna employing over 20,000 people in many sectors such as tea, textile, real estate, crisps, poultry, shipping and internet services.
Mr. Behrouze Ispahani was the Managing Director of the International Publications Ltd, the owning company of the Financial Express, a leading financial national daily of the country. He was one of the members of Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE). He was a committed philanthropist chairing the Ispahani Islamia Eye Institute and Hospital. He was former chairman of Ispahani Adarsha High School & College. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Independent University of Bangladesh (IUB). He was also one of the members of the Board of Directors of MIDAS.
Behrouze Ispahani was a great human being and close to the hearts of many of us. He was a wonderful person with versatile qualities. His friendliness was unparalleled. He will be remembered for his most endearing personality.