Leahy takes stopgap Lonrho job

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The Independent Online
SIR John Leahy, a former diplomat, yesterday slid reluctantly into the chairmanship of Lonrho, after the international trading and mining group failed to find an outsider for the post, writes Peter Rodgers.

Sir John is currently vice-chairman and heads a committee of non-executive directors that was asked in the summer to search for a chairman to replace Rene Leclezio, who has retired.

Sir John has accepted the chairmanship as an interim measure and Lonrho made clear the committee's search for a permanent replacement was continuing. As a former ambassador to South Africa, he has experience of the continent where Lonrho does a large part of its business.

The search for a chairman has been made harder by the public row last month between Tiny Rowland and his co-chief executive Dieter Bock, after an attempted boardroom coup to get rid of Mr Rowland misfired. There were suggestions that outsiders were unwilling to take the job while Mr Rowland stayed.

Mr Rowland said last month he expected Sir John would eventually agree to take the post permanently. Outside candidates have included Eugene Anderson, the former chairman of Ferranti, who was vetoed by Mr Rowland.