CITY TALK : Follow Dieter out of Lonrho

SO, farewell then, Dieter Bock. The one-time chief executive of Lonrho, more recently its non-executive deputy chairman, has finally quit the group from which he ousted its original architect, Tiny Rowland. But as shareholders look back on his brief reign, what can they claim he has done for them?

True, he set about breaking up Lonrho. But a deal finally to separate the mining arm from the African trading business looks as far off as it ever did and is now bogged down at the European Commission, which is shortly expected to announce onerous restrictions on Anglo American's stake.

Nor is there any news on the sale of the remaining Princess hotels, where talks with Saudi Prince al-Waleed bin Talal have also stalled. Meanwhile, several strategies chosen by Mr Bock - such as splitting the group up, floating off the hotels business, and selling its platinum mining business to South Africa's Gencor - have all had to be abandoned.

The German property man himself, though, has done rather well. The sale of his stake in Lonrho at 180p has reputedly netted him upwards of pounds 100m, plus a generous salary for his time. If Mr Bock claimed he would maximise returns for shareholders, he certainly more than managed that for one of them. The shares, at 147.5p, are up from under pounds 1 when he joined four years ago, but there seems little incentive to hold them now.

Over the next few weeks, you could be hearing more of another biotechnology start-up, Chemunex, which has developed a technology to test for bugs and impurities. The company is in the midst of a placing on Easdaq - the Europe-wide stock market for nascent companies.

Aha, say those of you who follow the sector, sounds similar to what Celsis does. Well, yes and no. Celsis, for a start, is far more advanced and prefers not to be classed as a pure biotech stock - the know-how it uses is already on sale, and it is well on course to reach break-even. Chemunex's technology, by contrast, while arguably more sophisticated, is at an earlier stage of development. And its greater sensitivity means that it will find applications where extremely accurate tests are needed, such as drug companies. Celsis has a much wider market so scare stories that it may be unseated are wide of the mark.

Directors' share sales were seen last week at Greenalls, the brewing to hotels group where Andrew Thomas, the chairman and chief executive, sold 30,276 at 560.5p each to cut his holding to 90,000. At another brewer, Morlands, of Old Speckled Hen fame, director of retail operations Peter Furness-Smith sold 2,550 shares at 590p, or almost half of his holding. He now has 7,179 shares.

Greenalls, after a spectacular rise from 400p two years ago to a high of 633p in May last year - and a brief stint in the FT-SE 100, has been stuck in a rut since then, trading between 550p and 580p. Perhaps Mr Thomas suspects the best is past. And Mr Furness-Smith too.

Tadpole, the computer concern that specialises in whizzy laptops, had another rough time this week, with its shares falling 11 per cent to 26p.

However, while Tadpole continues to go through a torrid time, a UK winner in the computer stakes, Psion, surges ahead. It closed the week at 432.5p, up from 421.5p on Monday. Not even a negative newspaper report that software giant Microsoft wants to muscle in on the hand-held market - where Psion is a world leader - could upset the shares. Microsoft will sell its CE hand-held computers this summer. They are expected to retail at pounds 550, compared with only pounds 400 for a similar machine from Psion.

More positive news came on Tuesday when the World Trade Organisation announced it was close to agreeing tariffs on computer equipment, which will benefit Psion. The company reports full-year results tomorrow, when chairman and founder David Potter is due to present the figures after returning from an emergency heart bypass operation before Christmas.

Heal's, the upmarket furniture stores group, is in the midst of putting the finishing touches to its flotation plans. The group hopes to come to the market on 18 March, with first dealings expected on 24 March. It launched its pathfinder prospectus last week, which showed a strong improvement in sales, profits and sales densities. Management seems to be doing a good job and Christmas sales surpassed expectations, so there seems every likelihood the shares will follow in the footsteps of Harvey Nichols.

Expect another success.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk