Manuel Pinto de Azevedo (1874–1959)

Manuel Pinto de Azevedo became one of the leading industrialists and entrepreneurs of Portugal in the mid-twentieth century. He worked his way up from a position as a factory employee to build a group of cotton factories and other businesses in the region around Porto.

Pinto de Azevedo was born in the Bonfim district of Porto, Portugal’s second city. He attended technical school and began work in the textile industry in 1894. He rose rapidly and became director of a fabric factory in Bonfim at the age of just 26. In 1917 he was appointed director of the Soure cotton factory south of Porto and seven years later he became its owner. This was the beginning of a remarkable period during the 1920s when he increased his industrial interests very rapidly, in partnership with two other entrepreneurs, Manuel Caetano de Oliveira, who had returned to Porto from Brazil, and Manuel Alves Soares, who began as a grocer in the Porto region. Pinto de Azevedo acquired a spinning factory at Areosa to the north in 1920 and the large factory Empressa Fabril do Norte nearby in 1922. This had been established in 1905 but grew under its new owners to become the largest cotton factory in Portugal. He acquired two more textile factories to the north of Porto in 1928, at Ermesinde and Rio Tinto. He developed markets in the Portuguese African colonies of Mozambique and Angola.

While textile production was his main area of business, Pinto de Azevedo also invested in other sectors, including copper manufacturing, mechanical engineering, cork production, newspaper publishing, banking and insurance. In politics he opposed the coup that led to the Salazar regime in 1926 and continued to aid democratic opponents in exile. He supported charities in health care, sports, fire-fighting and humanitarian aid.