Tiny keeps heat on Bock

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ROLAND 'Tiny' Rowland has sent his personal head of security, Ken Etheridge, to Germany in what is believed to be part of a widening investigation by Lonrho into the affairs of joint chief executive Dieter Bock, writes David Hellier.

Late last year Mr Rowland invoked the disclosure provisions of the Companies Act to force information out of Mr Bock which appears to reflect poorly on the German businessman's financial standing.

Mr Rowland is also believed to have employed Kroll, a private investigation agency, to conduct a 'due diligence' investigation into Mr Bock before he took an 18 per cent stake in Lonrho in December 1992.

Lonrho sources insist that peace has broken out between the two warring chief executives in recent weeks, that they are determined to mend fences and reach a rapprochement.

However, Mr Rowland's apparent determination to delve into Mr Bock's background and past is bound to aggravate further the bitter squabble between the two men ahead of Lonrho's annual results on Tuesday.

Followers of Lonrho's affairs in the City fear that Mr Rowland may be preparing an all-out assault against Mr Bock to try to force him to back down from his policy of reorganising the company.

Mr Rowland is famous for his attacks on businessmen who threaten his position, including Alan Bond, the Australian entrepreneur, and the Fayed brothers, owners of House of Fraser.

Lonrho is widely expected to announce profits of about pounds 90m, up 12 per cent on the year before.

A source close to Lonrho suggested that for the time being Mr Bock was being forced to shelve plans to dispense with the services of four senior directors who are loyal to Mr Rowland.

'At the moment, as the articles of association stand, no director can be forced out without the consent of all the others,' the source said.