Bock plans to sell off Lonrho's hotel interests

Dieter Bock took a further step towards a possible break-up of Lonrho yesterday as he confirmed that the mining and agriculture conglomerate planned to float off its wide-ranging hotel interests, possibly this year.

The move, which accompanied better-than-expected results for 1994, is certain to create a further rift with Roland "Tiny" Rowland, who was ousted from the board last November and is understood to be set against a flotation of the division.

Apart from the diversity of the group's interests, which include luxury American hotels, the Metropole chain in Britain and safari lodges in Kenya, another possible stumbling block to any flotation is expected to be the one-third stake held in the Metropole chain by the Libyan government.

Mr Rowland courted controversy in the wake of the Lockerbie bombing, when he raised £177m from Colonel Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, for the stake. He had bought the whole chain 12 years previously for less than £20m.

Mr Bock, who poured cold water on rumours that he is poised to sell up to half his 18.5 per cent holding in Lonrho, also said that flotation was an option being considered for the group's general trading operations, whose interests include motor and equipment trading and textiles.

The market was unsurprised by the decision to float parts of the Lonrho empire, which Mr Bock sees as a way of establishing a proper value for the group's assets. Although they are stated in the books at only 135p a share, Mr Bock and others in the City believe they could actually be worth more than 200p.

The expectation that Lonrho's hidden value might be realised now that Mr Rowland has been pushed upstairs to the position of president has led to a 20 per cent rise in the share price since the coup.

The day before Mr Rowland stepped down from the board after 34 years at Lonrho, the shares traded at 132.5p compared with a high of 300p in 1990. Yesterday they closed 2.5p higher at 158.8p.

As well as confirming that he would be holding on to the stake he bought two years ago, Mr Bock said he had no intention of buying Mr Rowland's remaining 6 per cent stake: "When I started at Lonrho I needed to have an influence. This is no longer necessary."

Underlying profits grew strongly during 1994, with a 56 per cent improvement at the pre-tax level from £72m to £112m. Including an £87m profit from business disposals in 1993 they fell from £165m. Earnings per share jumped from 1.9p to 6.6p and the dividend increased from 4p to 4.75p.

Mining, which generates about half the group's operating profits benefited from a 7 per cent rise in production from the recently floated Ashanti mines. The division is set to produce 1 million ounces of gold this year and costs remain low at $167 an ounce. The platinum division's profits were knocked by a 38 per cent decrease in the rhodium price but platinum volumes and prices both rose during the year.

The hotels division, which has 7,000 rooms in 19 hotels and seven Kenyan safari lodges, increased profits from £19m to £28m despite persistently low occupancy rates, notably in Mexico where political instability kept hotels two thirds empty.

The agriculture division, Africa's largest commercial food producer with operations in 11 countries covering 1 million acres, was boosted by its dominant sugar arm where profits grew 65 per cent to £28m.

Of the four core divisions, only general trade fell, from £33m to £21m, as its manufacturing activities turned a £4m profit into a £5m loss.

Outlook, this page

News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
people
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Training Programme Manager (Learning and Development)-London

£28000 - £32000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manage...

1st Line Support Technician / Application Support

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider of web based m...

Team Secretary - (Client Development/Sales Team) - Wimbledon

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Secretary (Sales Team Support) - Mat...

Accountant / Assistant Management Accountant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an Assistant Management Ac...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices