M&S non-executives take break from bid battle to deal with profit warnings closer to home

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The Independent Online

Two Marks & Spencer non-executive directors embroiled in finding a new M&S management team while defending the retailer from Philip Green's takeover bid both suffered profits warnings yesterday at the other companies they chair.

Two Marks & Spencer non-executive directors embroiled in finding a new M&S management team while defending the retailer from Philip Green's takeover bid both suffered profits warnings yesterday at the other companies they chair.

Kevin Lomax, the executive chairman of Misys, the software group, and Brian Baldock, the non-executive chairman of Sygen International, the pig breeding company, both sit on the board of M&S.

Mr Lomax has been leading the hunt for a new M&S chairman and chief executive. He has been supported by his fellow M&S directors including Mr Baldock, who was at the recent Chelsea breakfast meeting where M&S board members cemented a deal to hire Stuart Rose as the group's new chief executive.

Misys yesterday saw its shares slide nearly 10 per cent after the company revealed that sales and margins would be down in the year to 31 May. Sygen said trading in the second half of the year to 39 June had been below expectations, sending its shares down 12.3 per cent.

A spokeswoman for Misys said: "There are different elements in the story. It is not about anybody taking their eye off the ball."

John Adams, the finance director of Sygen, said: "Brian has been as engaged here despite the calendar he has."

In a trading update ahead of annual results to be announced on 22 July, Misys said trading had been in line with expectations, which means revenues are expected to be 10 per cent below last year's.

A stronger pound against the dollar also hit revenues from the company's medical software business in the United States.

Misys also said that operating margins, 2 per cent lower in the first half of the year, were expected to show about the same level of reduction after the second half.

On a brighter note, Misys said there were signs of improvement in its banking and securities software business and healthcare operations with increases in orders in both divisions.

"However, in banking and securities conditions continue to be challenging. In healthcare we continue to invest heavily in our clinical products suite," the company said

Sygen said that its overall trading performance during the second half of the year had been "below the level anticipated in February 2004" when the company released its half-year results.

The company has been hit by rising pig feed prices in the US causing its customers to delay buying more pigs for breeding. Sygen owns PIC, which supplies genetically enhanced pig breeding stock.

Philip David, Sygen's chief executive, said: "The second-half out turn is disappointing, but the recent recovery in the US market make for an encouraging outlook for Sygen's core PIC subsidiary in the new financial year.

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