Sale may be further fuel for a bitter feud
Wednesday 21 July 1993
Tiny Rowland, observers believe, will jump on the flotation as vindication of his claim that House of Fraser was a 'panorama of chicanery'.
Ever since the Egyptian-born Fayeds snatched Fraser from under Mr Rowland's nose in 1985, he has sought to prove their 'true' background and source of money. For the Fayeds, Mr Rowland's avalanche of writs is part of the 'longest whinge in British commercial history'.
It all began in 1981. A bid for Fraser by Mr Rowland's Lonrho group was blocked by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, and in 1984 Lonrho sold its 29.9 per cent stake to the Fayeds. But a later report, which Lonrho claims the Department of Trade and Industry received in February 1985, released Lonrho from its undertaking not to bid. The Fayeds made their pounds 615m offer for Fraser on 4 March 1985. Mr Rowland claims the DTI did not give Lonrho the go-ahead until 10 days later, when it was too late.
Mr Rowland was outraged, using his Observer newspaper as the mouthpiece for an assault on the Fayeds and the DTI, including the mid-week publication of an issue in 1990 devoted to exposing the brothers' 'financial ugliness'. It was based on a DTI report criticising the Fayeds for lying about the extent of their wealth and background.
A multi-million-pound damages claim was issued against the DTI and its former Secretary of State, Norman (now Lord) Tebbitt, alleging negligence in stopping Lonrho from mounting a rival bid for Fraser until the Fayeds had gained control.
As parliamentary pressure mounted for an examination of Fraser's tax affairs, speculation grew about the role of the Sultan of Brunei as the true source of the Fayeds' money. The Sultan admitted giving Mohamed al-Fayed power of attorney to acquire the Dorchester Hotel, but said use of that power to buy Fraser would have been 'without His Majesty's authority'.
Mr Rowland's campaign continued. In 1991 writs were issued alleging that the Fayeds were behind a five-year campaign of vilification. A Takeover Panel report in 1992 saying the Fayeds misrepresented their business interests only fuelled the slanging match.
Hopes of reconciliation came to nought, even though Fraser offered to remove the name Tiny from the stuffed shark hanging in the Harrods food hall. It was hardly likely to placate Mr Rowland. But for outsiders, it was one of the few jokes in this bitter saga.
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
Boris Johnson claims porn-obsessed Islamic jihadists are 'literally w*****s'
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Putin opponent reveals Russian President's daughter's secret identity
Ball pool for adults opens in London
Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account
iJobs Money & Business
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...
£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...
£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...