Tiny ousted from Lonrho

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Tiny Rowland, one of Britain's most controversial businessmen, was ousted as the head of the Lonrho international trading conglomerate yesterday after a bitter 18-month battle for control with the German property tycoon Dieter Bock.

Mr Rowland, 76, was forced to resign as joint managing director and chief executive during a day-long board meeting, after 34 years with the company. He will resign officially next March but will receive his full pay and perks, estimated to be worth pounds 5m a year, until the end of 1995.

Mr Rowland yesterday called Lonrho's newly appointed chairman, Sir John Leahy, a ``lickspittle'', and his old adversary Mohamed al-Fayed, owner of Harrods, ``not larger than life, lower than life''.

Edward Heath described Lonrho in the early 1970s as ``the unacceptable face of capitalism''. Mr Rowland won further notoriety in the 1980s by allying with Mr Fayed in the battle for Harrods and then falling out with the Egyptian businessman.

He printed numerous pamphlets attacking Mr Fayed, describing him as ``the hero from zero''. Mr Fayed and Mr Rowland had appeared to bury the hatchet last year, but now Mr Rowland is considering further legal action after Mr Fayed taped a recent private dinner conversation between them.

A Lonrho statement said: ``The board expressed the hope that Mr Rowland would continue to make his experience available to Lonrho, particularly in Africa.''

Mr Rowland made his mark cultivating heads of state in Africa, where Lonrho owns vast tracts of land and several gold and platinum mines. The company has sales of almost pounds 1bn a year and operates in more than 60 countries.

His iron grip on Lonrho started slipping at the beginning of 1993 when Mr Bock bought an 18.8 per cent stake in the company and was appointed chief executive. The German won support from shareholders for his view that Mr Rowland's role should be wound down. His last two supporters on the board, Rene Leclezio and Robert Dunlop, retired respectively at the end of October and September.

(Photograph omitted)

Last board meeting, page 32

View from City Road, page 33