Bock set for 19% of Lonrho

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DIETER BOCK, the German tax lawyer and property developer, looks set to emerge with a shareholding of almost 19 per cent in Lonrho after the overseas trader's pounds 169m rights issue appears to have been predictably shunned by investors.

Mr Bock, seen as a potential heir apparent to Lonrho's chief executive 'Tiny' Rowland, 75, agreed last month to underwrite pounds 85m, almost half the rights issue.

At the same time Mr Bock undertook to buy 6.5 per cent of Mr Rowland's own 15 per cent shareholding in Lonrho at 115p a share, a substantial premium to the market price. This deal was completed yesterday.

Mr Bock, who is expected to take a seat on Lonrho's board once his business affairs allow, also has a three-year option on the remainder of Mr Rowland's shareholding, which could eventually take his stake to 25 per cent.

The rights issue subscription price of 85p was also pitched at a premium to Lonrho's market price, which closed 1p up yesterday at 72p, so common sense suggested that few Lonrho shareholders would take up their rights by the time the issue closed yesterday afternoon.

Although Lonrho's advisers are not due to release details of the rights take-up until Monday, indications yesterday were that the response from shareholders in London and Johannesburg was not expected to be large.