Tiny Rowland

Tiny Rowland

Roland "Tiny" Rowland (November 27, 1917 – July 25, 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 Harrods.

German background

Rowland, originally Roland Walter Fuhrhop, was born on November 27, 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. BBC Report

His father, who despised Adolf Hitler, moved the family to Great Britain in 1937, where he attended Churcher's College, 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 Man, 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 Flats in Mashonaland West 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 Court 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 Harrods department store in Knightsbridge, but was defeated by the Egyptian-born tycoon Mohamed Al-Fayed, which led to a well-publicised feud between the two men.

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 1996 President Nelson Mandela awarded Rowland the Order of Good Hope, the highest South African honour. He died in London on July 25, 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 Eye frequently referred to him as "tiny but perfect", not because of any shortness in stature, but because he was always impeccably groomed.

See also


External links

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