Ramón de la Sota y Llano (1857–1936)
Ramón de la Sota y Llano was a Basque industrialist who made a fortune in the partnership Aznar y Sota, at first by mining iron ore and later in connected businesses across Spain in maritime transport, shipbuilding, railways, electricity, insurance and banking.
His parents both came from families of iron-merchants near Bilbao and he was brought up at the iron-ore mining centre of Musques. He studied at Bilbao and Madrid, where he graduated in law. In 1881 he formed the partnership Aznar y Sota with his cousin Eduardo Aznar to mine iron ore and ship it to steelmakers in Britain. They created mining companies at Setares in Cantabria, Sierra Alhamilla in Almeria, Ojos Negros in Teruel and Segunto in Valencia. They bought ships to transport their ore and in 1900 they formed the Eskalduna shipyards at Bilbao, which built and repaired ships and made railway equipment.
After Eduardo Aznar died in 1902, his son Luis María Aznar y Tutor continued the partnership with Sota. In 1906 they merged several shipping companies into the Sota y Aznar company with some 25 steamships. Many of these were torpedoed in the First World War while leased to the British government but the contract was highly profitable and de la Sota was honoured with a British knighthood. In 1917, the group expanded into steelmaking with the Compañía Siderúrgica del Mediterráneo at Sagunto in Valencia, though this struggled to compete with other producers. The partnership continued until 1930 when family relationships broke down after the death of Luis María Aznar. From this time Sota managed the group on his own.
Sota was involved in the promotion of Spanish enterprise as Secretary General of the Chamber of Commerce in Bilbao and head of coordinating bodies in mining, shipping and business. He was awarded the title of Marquis of Llano. He entered politics as a Basque nationalist and was elected to the Spanish Cortes. At the outbreak of the Civil War he arranged for his ships to evacuate people from Bilbao. The fascists ordered him to leave the country but he died a few weeks later, still in the Basque country. His assets were seized.