Rowland to meet Bock candidates: Stage set for battle on non-executives

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ROLAND 'Tiny' Rowland, joint chief executive of Lonrho, the international trading group, will interview two businessmen proposed by his new partner Dieter Bock to join the board of Lonrho as non-executive directors.

The move comes amid growing speculation that relations between Mr Bock and Mr Rowland are deteriorating rapidly over how Lonrho should be managed.

Mr Rowland will interview the two men with Rene Leclezio, the group's chairman.

The two proposed by Mr Bock are Peter Harper, a director of Hanson, the Anglo-American conglomerate, and Stephen Walls, chairman of Albert Fisher, the food processing and distribution group.

Last week, Lonrho announced that it had delayed the appointment of the two non-executive directors until 19 October.

A spokesman for the Bock camp said at the time that some Lonrho directors had not met Mr Bock's nominees. These were Mr Rowland and Mr Leclezio.

The stage is set for a trial of strength between the aims of Mr Bock, who acquired an 18.8 per cent shareholding in Lonrho earlier this year, and Mr Rowland's rumbustious style of management.

Lonrho has not had non-executive directors on its board since the early 1970s, when Mr Rowland mounted a shareholders' coup against them and forced them off the board.

Mr Bock, who with Mr Rowland is a joint chief executive of Lonrho, has sought to have non-executive directors appointed as part of the conditions for his pounds 130m participation in a Lonrho rights issue. This helped to salvage the debt-ridden group last year.