David Lenigas has stepped down as executive chairman of Lonrho to focus on his other interests, including fastJet, the new budget African airline backed by easyJet's founder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou.
He will be replaced at Lonrho by Frances Cook, the company's senior independent director, who will be non-executive chairman. She is a former US ambassador to Burundi, Cameroon and Oman.
FastJet was founded earlier this year after Lonrho, the rump of Tiny Rowland's African-focused conglomerate, reversed its existing East African carrier, Fly540, into an Aim-listed cash shell. Sir Stelios took a 5 per cent stake.
Mr Lenigas ran into a boardroom pay row earlier this year when Sir Richard Needham quit Lonrho as a non-executive director the day before the annual shareholders' meeting, criticising plans to pay the chairman a £200,000 rise, taking his total remuneration to £700,000.
Sir Richard, a former trade minister, rekindled memories of Lonrho's run-in with Edward Heath in the 1970s, when the then prime minister described Mr Rowland as the unacceptable face of capitalism over the company's links with Rhodesia.
In his resignation letter, Sir Richard said "it would be a pity" if the phrase came to haunt Lonrho again. Over a fifth of shareholders voted against the remuneration report at the AGM.