Green seeks to meet M&S pension trustees

Philip Green yesterday moved to get his proposed £8.4bn bid for Marks & Spencer back on track, appealing directly to the retailer's pensions trustees for due diligence information that could result in an improved offer for the company.

Mr Green is trying to bring the M&S saga back to the central issue of his takeover attempt. The past week has been dominated by the Financial Services Authority's probe into M&S share trades and the bitter personal row between Goldman Sachs, Mr Green's adviser, and Stuart Rose, the new chief executive of M&S.

Mr Green, frustrated by the M&S board, has written directly to David Norgrove, the chairman of the M&S pension trustees, to request a meeting.

Mr Green wants details of the fund's deficit and funding requirements. In turn he can provide information to them about his own financing and the impact it may have on actuarial valuations of the M&S pension fund.

The trustees will meet early next week to discuss Mr Green's request.

Writing directly to Mr Norgrove suggests Mr Green is now moving to more aggressive tactics in his bid approach. He has previously asked M&S to answer certain questions on short-term trading, the pension fund and supplier contracts, so he can shape his bid in more detail.

The M&S board has refused to answer his questions and has rejected two bid proposals claiming his enquiries are too commercially sensitive to answer.

However, Mr Green claims the questions are not commercially sensitive. His advisers want M&S to adopt the same approach as that of board of WH Smith, which received an unsolicited bid from Permira, the private equity fund, but allowed it access to information to carry out due diligence.

A spokesman for Mr Green said that M&S shareholders should be allowed to decide whether a bid from Mr Green is worth accepting.

In a separate development, Roger Holmes, the former chief executive of M&S, has hired a public relations firm to represent him in the run-up to the retailer's strategy presentation on 12 July.

Comments