German tycoon Bock chokes to death at luxury hotel

BERLIN Thu May 27, 2010 10:25am EDT

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Dieter Bock, one of Germany's wealthiest men and former chief executive of Lonrho Plc, has died aged 71, with one newspaper reporting that he choked on a piece of meat at a luxury Hamburg hotel he co-owned.

Bock, a lawyer-turned-property-magnate who forced out Lonrho founder Tiny Rowland in a boardroom battle for control of the British conglomerate, died in a room at the Atlantic hotel where James Bond movie "Tomorrow Never Dies" was filmed.

A spokesman for the Hamburg police confirmed on Thursday that Bock was found dead in the hotel on May 12.

"It was an accident," said Hamburg police's Holger Vehren. "He choked. Rescue crews tried without success to revive him."

Bild newspaper said the reclusive tycoon choked on a piece of meat. It estimated his wealth at 600 million euros ($736.8 million).

Bock joined Lonrho after joining a rescue share-rights issue in 1992 and immediately clashed with Rowland. Rowland had run his international trading group for three decades before being ousted in a fierce boardroom battle in 1994 by Bock.

Their often public rows culminated in March 1995 when Rowland was ousted from the Lonrho board 34 years after he founded the company.

Bock became Lonrho's deputy chairman late in 1997 when he gave up his job as chief executive to prevent conflict of interest as the British conglomerate was demerging.

(Writing by Erik Kirschbaum; editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)

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