Green poised to boost M&S bid to £10bn cash

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The Independent Online

The retail entrepreneur Philip Green is expected to finalise details of a £10bn all-cash offer for Marks & Spencer this week, adding £1bn to his current offer and removing the so-called stub equity element.

Mr Green is due to meet his advisers tomorrow to discuss his next move. "I haven't decided to do anything different," he said yesterday, "I am evaluating the position."

But his camp accepts that last week's bid was no more than a sighting shot, implying there was always the intention to up the ante in the absence of a shock decision by the M&S board to approve the initial approach. "We didn't exactly expect them to send round a messenger with the keys to the front door," a source close to Mr Green said.

One point that has been resolved, at least to the Green camp's satisfaction, is that the majority of institutional shareholders in M&S would prefer straight cash to a mixture of cash and shares in a newly created company controlled by Mr Green. This is also expected to win more votes of the retail group's 350,000 individual shareholders, who together own 20 per cent of the company.

"We only offered equity because I was always being accused of keeping all the profits for myself," Mr Green is reported as saying.

It is understood that his own preference is for an all-cash offer, so removing that obstacle would be good news for all concerned.

Stuart Rose, the newly appointed chief executive of M&S, said: "What I will do this week is spend some time getting into the business and understanding what's going on.

"The first box will contain those things that we don't want to do any more and we'll stop. I can't say what they, are but there will be some. The middle box will be things we're interested in, but not today. The third box are things that will make a difference to the business."

Mr Rose was at pains yesterday to dispel any impression that he might have breached the terms of a letter of confidentiality Mr Green asked him to sign shortly before joining M&S.

"It is his concern, not mine," Mr Green said. "If he had adhered to the terms of the letter, there isn't an issue, is there?"

The two men met in Baker Street, London, outside the M&S head office last Friday, when Mr Green allegedly grabbed Mr Rose by the lapels in front of witnesses.

But yesterday Mr Green sought to play down the incident, saying: "We were having a laugh. I just gave him a shake as a bit of sport, that was all.

"If I had been serious, Stuart would have gone straight through the window, wouldn't he?"

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