Feud hots up at Lonrho

THE bitter war between Lonrho's founder Tiny Rowland and its German chief executive Dieter Bock is set to intensify, as African litigation started last week against Impala, Lonrho's South African platinum merger partner.

Mr Rowland is also threatening renewed legal action relating to a disputed option Mr Bock holds to buy his 6.3 per cent stake in Lonrho, which became exercisable yesterday.

The tycoon, ousted earlier this year, says he has already written to the Director of Public Prosecutions, alleging conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in evidence that Mr Bock presented in court in May to prevent annulment of the option.

"The papers have gone to the DPP and we are working on a writ here against Mr Bock," Mr Rowland said. Mr Bock has always denied Mr Rowland's allegations.

Lonrho shareholders approved the merger of its pounds 430m platinum division with Impala 10 days ago, in a deal that creates the world's biggest platinum producer. The merger is also key to Mr Bock's attempts to lift shareholder value, in a series of moves that may see further spin-offs of Lonrho's hotels, motor dealerships and African food interests.

Last Wednesday, the Bafokeng tribe of Bophuthatswana issued a writ against Impala, seeking to annul mining rights granted back in 1990, threatening the value of the merged Implats group in which Lonrho now has a 32 per cent stake.

The long-awaited action is based on claims that Lucas Mangope, the since discredited former president of the former self-governing area, had no authority to sign the deal with Impala.

"If the challenge is successful, Impala will have no rights to mine tribal land," Bafokeng's law firm of Bell, Dewar and Hall said in a statement.

Like Impala, Lonrho says it is confident the action will fail.

At the shareholder meeting, however, Mr Rowland accused the Lonrho board of glossing over the threat posed by the Bafokeng's case to the value of Impala's platinum interests. In its merger circular, Lonrho said any litigation by the Bafokeng tribe would fail "in all probability", though it declined to elaborate.

Its verdict is based on a 400-page legal opinion, produced by counsel in Johannesburg and London. But sources familiar with the opinion's content say that while it favours Impala's position, it also warns that the Bafokeng have a credible claim. Onlookers also fear an element of risk, given South Africa's new multi-racial government and the Bafokeng's political clout.

Lonrho has, however, negotiated an option to sell its Implats shares to Impala's parent Gencor - but only at a maximum pounds 380m - if the action succeeds.

"Lonrho has fully protected itself against the eventuality of such litigation," a spokesman said, downplaying the Bafokeng writ. But Johannesburg-based mining analyst Mark Roggen- singer of brokers Merrill Lynch is less sanguine. "The case is a difficult one to call," he said, adding that renegotiation of the Impala rights may be a likely outcome.

The platinum merger provoked bitter boardroom splits at Lonrho, with director Terence Wilkinson, who heads Lonrho's South African mining businesses, opposed from the start. Chairman Sir John Leahy refused to let Mr Wilkinson answer questions at the shareholders' meeting.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' embraces politics, religion, warfare, courage, love and loyalty, say creators
Sport
Sergio Romero saves Wesley Sneijder's penalty
world cup 2014But after defeating the Dutch, Lionel Messi and Argentina will walk out at the Maracana on Sunday as underdogs against Germany
Sport
Scoreboard at the end of the semi-final World Cup match between Brazil and Germany at The Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte
Sport
'Saddest man in Brazil' takes defeat with good grace, handing replica trophy to German fans
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
peopleThe Game of Thrones author said speculation about his health and death was 'offensive'
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman and Lauren O'Neil in Jamie Lloyd's Richard III
theatreReview: The monarch's malign magnetism and diabolic effrontery aren’t felt
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Sport
Alexis Sanchez and apparently his barber Carlos Moles in Barcelona today
football
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips
video
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
In his own words: Oscar Wilde in 1882
theatreNew play by the Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials - and what they reveal about the man
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m
filmWith US films earning record-breaking amounts at the Chinese box office, Hollywood is more than happy to take its lead from its new-found Asian audience
News
The garage was up for sale in Canning Place Mews for £500,000
newsGarage for sale for £500,000
Life and Style
tech
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

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Financial Planning Manager, Qual Accountant, £380

£300 - £380 per day: Orgtel: Financial Planning Manager, Banking , London, £30...

Business Analyst - Financial Services, Trading Systems, Agile

£60000 - £75000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading fina...

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil