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Roland "Tiny" Rowland
Roland "Tiny" Rowland (27 November 1917 – 25 July 1998) was a British businessman and chairman of the Lonrho conglomerate from 1962 to 1994. He gained fame from a number of high-profile takeover bids, in particular his bid to take control of Harrodsmarker.

German background

Rowland, originally Roland Walter Fuhrhop, was born on 27 November 1917 in a World War I detention camp for aliens in India, as the child of an Anglo-Dutch mother and a German trader father. After World War One the Fuhrhops were refused entry to United Kingdom and settled in Hamburg, Germany. He was said to have been nicknamed "Tiny" by his nanny because of his size. In the 1930s, he was briefly in the Hitler Youth.

His father, who despised Adolf Hitler, moved the family to Great Britain in 1937, where he attended Churcher's Collegemarker, Hampshire.

Rowland then worked for his uncle's shipping business in the City of London. He took his uncle's surname, 'Rowland' on his 22nd birthday. On the outbreak of World War 2 he was conscripted into the British Army where he served with the Royal Army Medical Corps. As enemy aliens, his parents were interned on the Isle of Manmarker, where his mother died. He himself was interned as an enemy alien after trying to arrange for the release of his father.


In 1948, Tiny Rowland moved to Rhodesia where he bought a tobacco farm at Eiffel Flatsmarker in Mashonaland Westmarker province. From 1952 to 1963 he lived with Irene Smith, the wife of a business partner.

Rowland was recruited to the London and Rhodesian Mining and Land Company, later Lonrho, as chief executive in 1962. Under his leadership, the firm expanded out of its origins in mining and became a conglomerate, dealing in newspapers, hotels, distribution, and textiles, and many other lines of business. During 1973, Rowland's position was the subject of a High Courtmarker case in which eight Lonrho directors sought Rowland's dismissal due to both his temperament and to claims he had concealed financial information from the board. Rowland failed in his legal attempt to block the move but was subsequently backed by shareholders and retained his position. British Prime Minister, Edward Heath, referring to the case, criticised the company in the House of Commons and described events there as "the unpleasant and unacceptable face of capitalism".

In 1983, Rowland took over The Observer newspaper and became its chairman. He also campaigned to gain control of Harrodsmarker department store in Knightsbridgemarker, but was defeated by the Egyptian-born tycoon Mohamed Al-Fayed

A December 1993 Financial Times article revealed that Hemar Enterprises, makers of documentary film The Maltese Double Cross – Lockerbie was owned by Metropole Hotels, controlled by Rowland. The film stated that Libya had no responsibility for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. Shortly after the indictment of Libya in the Pan Am Flight 103 incident, Rowland had sold a percentage of his interests to the Libyan Arab Foreign Investment Company (Lafico), controlled by the Government of Libya. For this reason, Susan and Daniel Cohen, parents of Pan Am Flight 103 victim Theodora Cohen, believed that Libya had backed the film.

In a boardroom coup in October 1993, Rowland was forced to step down as Chairman of Lonrho. He was succeeded by former diplomat Sir John Leahy. In March 1995 he was dismissed by the Board. The Cohens believe that Rowland's association with Muammar al-Gaddafi, the leader of Libya, and the film The Maltese Cross contributed to the decision to dismiss Rowland.

In 1996 President Nelson Mandela awarded Rowland the Order of Good Hope, the highest South African honour.

He died in London on 25 July 1998.

Media references

Rowland is prominently featured in the second part of the documentary The Mayfair Set by Adam Curtis, where he is profiled as a ruthless business man, jetting through Africa in order to take over British companies in former colonies.

He was also said to have served as the model for the ruthless British businessman "Sir Edward Matherson" played by Stewart Granger in the 1978 film The Wild Geese.

The satirical magazine Private Eyemarker frequently referred to him as "tiny but perfect", not because of any shortness in stature, but because he was always impeccably groomed.

In Australia, a champion racehorse, Lonhro, was named after him (with an intentional misspelling). The horse was described as "tiny but perfect" as a foal.

See also


  1. Cohen, Susan and Daniel. "Chapter 16." Pan Am 103: The Bombing, the Betrayals, and a Bereaved Family's Search for Justice. New American Library. 2000. 230-229
  2. Cohen, Susan and Daniel. "Chapter 16." Pan Am 103: The Bombing, the Betrayals, and a Bereaved Family's Search for Justice. New American Library. 2000. 235

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