Bock wants to sell 700 Lonrho firms

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The Independent Online
THE ROW between Dieter Bock and Roland 'Tiny' Rowland, joint chief executives of Lonrho, the giant trading corporation, is set to worsen today following publication of Mr Bock's plans for the company in the authoritative German business newspaper, Handelsblatt, reports Reuter.

In an interview published today, Mr Bock said he wanted to sell off 90 per cent of the group's 800 companies and possibly to float off the rest as four separate units.

Mr Bock said he wanted Lonrho to become a management and financial holding company focused on four sectors - mining, agriculture, hotels and trade. He wants to dispose of 700-odd companies in what he sees as non-core businesses such as transport, publishing, textiles, manufacturing and financial services.

'I want to construct a quoted company which is transparent for management and investors alike,' Mr Bock was quoted as saying. 'The slimmed-down group should increase profitability, free cash for sensible new acquisitions which fit into the concept and offer shareholders higher value.'

Mr Bock plans to concentrate investment in hotels and mining. Handelsblatt said he wanted to free up between dollars 500m and dollars 1bn tied up in the hotel sector for further investment in new projects.

He also said depressed prices in the mining sector offered good opportunities for acquisitions. Handelsblatt said Mr Bock did not deny that Lonrho's share price should be closer to 200p rather than Wednesday's London close of just over 133p.

As soon as restructuring was underway he would consider raising new equity, the paper said.