As the daughter of Ludvig Elsass, who was a director and shareholder in two companies, Sophus Berendsen and Rentokil, Helene’s inheritance was considerable. When she died in 2003, her estate was endowed to the Ludvig and Sara Elsass Foundation.
The story of the foundation has close ties with Danish industrial history. Sophus Berendsen, a company which traded in iron and steel, was founded by Sophus Berendsen Esq. in 1854. The company became a public limited company in 1897. Ludvig Elsass was the company’s first director and new co-shareholder.
In 1904, Sophus Berendsen A/S formed a new company, A/S Bakteriologisk Laboratorium Ratin, which was later established in the UK as The British Ratin Company Limited. In 1969 this company was listed on the stock exchange under a new name, Rentokil PLC.
Ludvig Elsass was director of the Sophus Berendsen group until his death in 1959, when he was succeeded by his son, Adam Elsass, who was also director when Sophus Berendsen A/S became a public limited company in 1972.
It was therefore Helene Elsass’ inheritance of shares dating back to 1897 and subsequent increments – ultimately the sale of Sophus Berendsen and divestment of her shares in Rentokil Initial PLC – which became the capital assets of the Ludvig and Sara Elsass Foundation.