Tiny in talks on exit

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TINY ROWLAND, Lonrho's embattled joint chief executive, is believed to be in discreet discussions with the board of the company he founded about the terms of his eventual departure, writes David Hellier.

What looked like an attempt by the Bock camp to unseat Mr Rowland earlier this month failed when Lonrho directors decided not to press the issue of his removal at a board meeting.

'I am a good friend and an excellent enemy,' he said at the time.

But it now appears that the rift between Mr Rowland and his joint chief executive, Dieter Bock, may yet be resolved amicably, with Mr Rowland suing for peace.

Under an agreement between the two men, Mr Bock, who already has almost a 19 per cent shareholding in Lonrho, can buy Mr Rowland's 6.4 per cent at market prices at the end of next year. Under the same agreement, Mr Rowland can offload his shares on to Mr Bock if Mr Bock has not already offered to buy them.

Mr Rowland is then widely expected to leave the company, armed with a substantial payment to compensate him for the loss of his pounds 1.2m yearly salary and in recognition of his long- standing services. However, a suitably attractive arrangment might induce him to consider leaving earlier.

A source close to the Lonrho board said: 'This is a very special situation. Tiny created the company, and Lonrho would not be there without him. He is the grand old man of the company and he is entitled to be treated as such. If he wants to negotiate now, then of course he can.'

Neither Mr Rowland nor Mr Bock would comment on the latest turn of events.

(Photograph omitted)