Monday, July 27, 1998 Published at 01:42 GMT 02:42 UK
Tiny Rowland dies at 80
Tiny Rowland: A colourful figure
The tycoon made his fortune in the mines of Africa before moving to Britain and buying the Observer newspaper.
Tiny Rowland's Lonrho conglomerate became one of Britain's biggest companies, but he was defeated in a battle with Mohamed al-Fayed to acquire the Harrods department store.
A friend of the Rowland family told The Observer that he died on Saturday morning surrounded by his family at a London clinic. Sources close to the family later confirmed this to the BBC. He had been suffering from skin cancer.
The then-Prime Minister, Ted Heath, referred to his company in the early 1970s as the "unacceptable face of British capitalism" because of its attempt to avoid tax.
The label soon stuck to Mr Rowland himself.
"He had a vision of Africa and its potential resources that was like Cecil Rhodes," he said.
But Mr Trelford added that after building up a huge conglomerate, "he virtually destroyed it by his single-minded obsession about getting Harrods".
Lonrho tried to persuade the government to investigate the circumstances surrounding the al-Fayeds' acquisition of the store.
The al-Fayeds' accused the Observer newspaper, under the ownership of Tiny Rowland's Lonrho, of conducting a concerted campaign against them.
And the acrimony endured. Tiny Rowland last year alleged that private documents were stolen from a safe deposit box in Harrods.
Last week the police decided there were no grounds for bringing any charges in the case.