View from City Road: Educating Dieter on reality at Lonrho

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The Independent Online
Who will win the propaganda war at Lonrho? Ever since Dieter Bock started raising his profile this autumn as the group's largest shareholder, a steady stream of news and policy statements has placed Mr Bock in a favourable light.

Lonrho and Tiny Rowland have appeared to agree with their new shareholder's views, most notably in selling the Observer, reaching peace with the Fayeds, rationalising the group and abandoning an interest in an ill-advised film on the Lockerbie affair. Now come suggestions that Mr Bock may force the departure of a group on the board known as the 'pensioners', who are widely regarded as Mr Rowland's sympathisers Out would go Rene Leclezio, group chairman, and Sir Peter Youens, both in their seventies, and two deputy chairmen, Paul Spicer and Robert Dunlop.

This may prove premature. Lonrho's articles of association do not contain a retirement age. Moreover, a decision to change the articles does not appear to have been made.

This in any case requires approval of a special resolution, unlikely to be attempted before the annual meeting in March.

Meanwhile, a director can only be removed by a unanimous board.

With so much to lose in salary and perks, it is hard to imagine any Lonrho director willingly giving up his post. And, when it comes to a fight, who can Mr Bock really rely on? His only real allies are two hand-picked non-executives.

The Bock camp, operating with separate public relations advisers, appears to be ahead of events. But Mr Rowland is biding his time.

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