Bock backs down over Rowland vote

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BTiny Rowland yesterday won a small victory in his battle against Dieter Bock, the German businessman who ousted him from Lonrho a fortnight ago. Mr Bock announced that he would vote his 18.6 per cent stake in the international trading conglomerate in favour of Mr Rowland's election as president of the company at the annual meeting on 24 March.

The announcement was an embarrassing reversal for Mr Bock, who led the coup to remove Mr Rowland from the board for what was described at the time as continuing public and irreconcilable differences.

Mr Bock has been forced to back down after advice from his lawyers. Mr Rowland issued a High Court writ last week demading Mr Bock comply with an agreement between the two men reached when Mr Rowland agreed to relinquish executive duties in November.

Under the terms of the deal, Mr Bock pledged to vote his shares in favour of Mr Rowland becoming president when the post is created at the annual meeting. But the company yesterday said the Lonrho directors were still recommending that shareholders reject the resolution proposing Mr Rowland.

A spokesman said the resolution required 75 per cent support to be carried. "To our chagrin, the agreement entered into with Tiny apparently still applies. It is an embarrassment and an irritation, but a pretty minor one."

Mr Rowland said: "Mr Bock undertook to vote his shares in my favour, so I'm pleased that he will now do so."