OWN CORRESPONDENT, Johannesburg | Monday 11.00AM.
FORMER Lonrho head and owner of The Observer, Tiny Rowland, died in a London hospital early on Friday, aged 80, from skin cancer.
A renowned maverick and brilliant businessman, Rowland has in recent years been notable for his criticisms of the way his former Lonrho empire has been run, and for running battles with the equally controversial owner of Harrods, Mohamed al Fayed.
Rowland transformed Lonrho from an unprofitable ranching and mining company in the former Rhodesia to multi-billion-pound conglomerate with investments across Africa; with 600 subsidiaries in 50 countries. He became notorious in the early 70s, after being condemned by then British prime minister Edward Heath as representing “an unpleasant and unacceptable face of capitalism”.
On hearing of Rowland’s death, President Nelson Mandela said: “This is a shock and very sad. He made an enormous contribution, not only to South Africa, but to the whole of Africa. He was a tremendous friend to the whole country.”