David Lenigas, the serial entrepreneur whose Lonrho wage
packet sparked controversy earlier this year, has quit as executive chairman of
the African farming-to-hotels group – with an £800,000 pay-off.
Mr Lenigas has, after seven years at the group's helm,
stepped down "with immediate effect" to focus on his role as executive chairman
of FastJet, the African airline in which Lonrho and EasyJet founder Sir Stelios
Haji-Ioannou are major shareholders.
The departure ends a tenure which has led into sectors such
as John Deere dealerships and seafood distribution a company which, while once
a major force in Africa, had been reduced by 2005 to Mozambican hotel interests
after selling assets including its Lonmin mining operations.
"David has spent seven years successfully developing Lonrho
into a company uniquely focused on Africa with operations across the continent
employing thousands and stimulating development and growth," Geoffrey White,
the company's chief executive, said.
However, the company's leadership attracted controversy in
May when Sir Richard Needham, a former UK trade minister, quit as an
independent Lonrho director amid controversy over Mr Lenigas's pay.
Sir Richard quit after failing to win a position on the board's
remuneration committee which he had asked for, after feeling "bounced into"
agreeing the pay package.
His unease centred around what he claimed were plans to
award Mr Lenigas a 50% salary rise, and a larger increase to David Armstrong, the
Lonrho finance director.
However, the proposals put, and passed, by the group's
annual meeting were for far smaller rises, of £50,000, bringing Mr Lenigas's
salary to £500,000, and Mr Armstrong's to £350,000.
Mr Lenigas, who reportedly has 147 directorships, largely
thanks to disparate structure of the Lonrho empire, will receive a pay-off of
8.14m shares in the group "in lieu of notice and other benefits".
The stock, which will take his holding in Lonrho to some 20m
shares, is worth more than £800,000 at market prices on Thursday.
The departure will also see Mr Lenigas replaced with a
non-executive chairman, Frances Cook, a former US ambassador, leaving executive
powers with Mr White, and moving the company into line with UK best practice on
the division of roles between the top two jobs.
Ms Cook, former US ambassador to Burundi, Cameroon and Oman,
moves up from Lonrho's senior independent director.
Lonrho shares closed up 1.7% at 10p in London.