Lonrho Africa on the attack

LONRHO AFRICA, yesterday went on the counter-offensive with a scathing personal attack on one of the George Soros-backed investors who are calling for a major shake-up of the troubled the sub-Saharan conglomerate.

In an angry outburst, Bernard Asher, the Lonrho Africa chairman, compared Miles Morland, the head of the African investment fund Blakeney Management, to the former Indonesia president Suharto and Imelda Marcos, the wife of the former Phillipines' dictator, describing him asso ruthless that "Suharto and Imelda Marcos have nothing to teach" him. Mr Asher accused Mr Morland of contradicting himself in negotiations with the board over the future of the hotels-to-agriculture group, recently demerged from the late Tiny Rowland's mining group.

Mr Morlan was unavailable for comment yesterday, but Joe Demby, a partner in Blakeney, said that Mr Asher's comments "smack of desperation".

Lonrho Africa yesterday called a special shareholders' meeting, scheduled for 10 Decemeber, to vote on the board changes proposed by Blakeney and fellow investment fund African Lakes, where one of the Soros funds own 13 per cent.

Blakeney and African Lakes - which hold 10.1 per cent of Lonrho - want to replace the current non-executive directors, including Mr Asher, with their nominees.