Old guard prepare to depart from Lonrho

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THE BOARDROOM revolution at Lonrho, the international trading conglomerate dominated by Roland 'Tiny' Rowland, will begin formally today at the group's annual general meeting in London.

Sir Peter Youens, 77, a Lonrho director for 16 years and a supporter of Mr Rowland, will leave the board at the meeting. Later this year the chairman Rene Leclezio, 74, and deputy chairmen Robert Dunlop and Paul Spicer, 64 and 66 respectively, will also depart. All are seen as supporters of Mr Rowland.

Lonrho will ask shareholders to approve payments of pounds 772,624 each to Mr Spicer and Mr Dunlop, who have served Lonrho for 24 years. Mr Leclezio will receive dollars 732,000 ( pounds 490,000) and pounds 120,000 in other payments. Sir Peter will receive pounds 300,000. The payments are defended by Lonrho because no director can be removed without its unanimous consent. If they are to be removed, that needs the consent of the director involved.

The boardroom changes are regarded as further evidence of the growing influence of Dieter Bock, the German businessman who joined as joint chief executive alongside Mr Rowland in February 1993. Mr Bock has already succeeded in bringing in two non-executive directors of his own choosing: Peter Harper, a director of Hanson, and Stephen Walls, chief executive of Albert Fisher. Mr Rowland backed the appointment of Sir John Leahy, a former British ambassador to South Africa.

A fragile peace is now in place between Mr Bock and Mr Rowland, who have challenged each other for dominance. Mr Bock has been determined to align Lonrho with modern business practice and establish a better relationship with the City.