Final curtain for Rowland

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The Independent Online
AT LONG, long last, this really does look like it could be Tiny Rowland's last stand, writes William Kay.

At this Friday's annual meeting of Lonrho, the international trading group, which he effectively created after he was asked to run it as a Rhodesian farming and mining group 34 years ago, he is almost certain to be defeated when he stands as president.

Even though the position is honorary and does not carry a seat on the board, sources close to the company have indicated that enough votes have been lodged against Mr Rowland's appointment to prevent him succeeding. He needs a 75 per cent vote in favour.

Mr Rowland, 77, was dramatically ousted as a Lonrho director at a board meeting on 2 March, when the board also decided to withdraw its support for his becoming president. Unusually for a British company, under Lonrho's articles of association the directors are empowered to remove a director without reference to the general body of shareholders.

This rule was instituted last year by Dieter Bock, the man Mr Rowland brought in to succeed him in 1993. However, since then the two have fallen out and Mr Rowland has waged an increasingly virulent campaign against Mr Bock in the run-up to this week's meeting.

He has circulated Lonrho's 57,000 shareholders, accusing Mr Bock of "very poor management skills" and urging them to support his presidency.

In a twist all too characteristic of Lonrho, Mr Bock has already signed an agreement that forces him to vote his 18.7 per cent stake in the group in favour of Mr Rowland on Friday.

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