Rowland severs last links with Lonrho

TOM STEVENSON

City Editor

One of British business's longest and most colourful relationships finally came to an acrimonious end yesterday as Tiny Rowland severed his last remaining links with Lonrho. He confirmed yesterday his decision to sell out of the trading company he built up over three decades into one of Britain's largest and most controversial enterprises.

The sale to chief executive Dieter Bock of a 6 per cent stake in Lonrho will raise just over pounds 90m for Mr Rowland, who until last week remained adamant that he would hold onto the shares. The deal takes Mr Bock's stake in the company he joined three years ago to 24 per cent.

From his Belgravia home yesterday, Mr Rowland kept up his vitriolic assault on Lonrho and its new management: "Three years ago I came to an agreement with a fellow called Bock. I thought I'd found the right man but he is the worst I have come across in 38 years as a director of public companies."

Comparing Mr Bock to one of his oldest business adversaries, Mr Rowland said: "Mohammed Al Fayed is an angel compared to Bock. That is really saying something."

The former chief executive of Lonrho warned that adding the proceeds of the share sale to his other resources worth about pounds 300m would create a sizeable war chest to acquire new business interests. He even threatened to buy back Lonrho if, as he expected, its share price were to fall significantly from yesterday's close of 192.5p.

The decision to sell comes days after Mr Rowland was shouted down at Lonrho's annual meeting - in sharp contrast to the cheers he received a year earlier when he tried to stage a comeback and was supported by small shareholders but voted down by big investors.

Mr Rowland's sellout will give Mr Bock a commanding stake in Lonrho, a trading company with roots in Africa, where for decades Mr Rowland relished his role as a jet-setting powerbroker who cut deals with tribal chiefs and dictators.

He brought Mr Bock into Lonrho as a successor but later the two tangled fiercely before Mr Bock gained the upper hand in a boardroom split. Lonrho finally fired Mr Rowland.

An often controversial figure, Mr Rowland built Lonrho up over 30 years of dealmaking to create a multinational empire spanning mining, hotels, media and food, much of it in Africa.

Once dubbed "the unacceptable face of capitalism" by former British Prime Minister Edward Heath, Lonhro became one of the African continent's biggest trading organisations employing more than 130,000 people.

In January, the company signalled a break with the past as it laid out proposals to disentangle its web of over 600 subsidiaries, triggering heavy flak from Mr Rowland. The company announced plans to list mining assets as a separate company and said more measures were in the offing to streamline its business and unlock shareholder value.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...

Reach Volunteering: Trustees with Finance, Fundraising and IT skills

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses reimbursable: Reach Volunteering: St...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent