Tiny 'approached Gaddafi' on shares: Lonrho board to meet on non-executives

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ROLAND 'Tiny' Rowland may have tried to persuade the Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, to finance a buyout of Dieter Bock's 18.8 per cent stake in Lonrho.

Mr Rowland and Mr Bock are also at loggerheads over Mr Bock's wish to appoint non-executive directors and introduce more openness and accountability at Lonrho.

The Independent on Sunday quoted Arab sources as saying that Mr Rowland had suggested to Colonel Gaddafi that he either lend him the money to buy out Mr Bock or that he purchase shares on his own behalf.

The Libyan leader appears to have said no. Last year Libya's state investment arm paid pounds 177.5m for one-third of Lonrho's Metropole Hotels.

At his home yesterday Mr Rowland's daughter said her father did not wish to comment. Mr Spicer was said to be unavailable.

Lonrho's board meets tomorrow to consider Mr Bock's proposals to appoint two non-executives, Peter Harper, a director of Hanson, and Stephen Wall, chairman of Albert Fisher.

Mr Bock is believed to have the support of a number of Lonrho directors, among them Robin Whitten and Sir Peter Youens, and institutional investors.

But Mr Rowland's backers include a group known by his opponents on the board as 'the pensioners', including Paul Spicer, deputy chairman, and Rene Leclezio, chairman.

At least three directors, including Mr Rowland, are receiving six-figure pensions on top of their already substantial salaries.

Mr Bock, a German businessman, bought a 9 per cent stake in Lonrho from Mr Rowland for pounds 55m early this year and added another 9.8 per cent by underwriting a rights issue.