Marks & Spencer share price closes below £2

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The Independent Online

Shares in Marks & Spencer, the troubled retail giant, yesterday closed below 200p for the first time in 10 years, prompting fresh fears for the group's future.

Shares in Marks & Spencer, the troubled retail giant, yesterday closed below 200p for the first time in 10 years, prompting fresh fears for the group's future.

M&S is now valued at just £5.7bn, less than half what it was worth two years ago. The collapse follows a recent flow of announcements about falling sales, the departure of chief executive Peter Salsbury and the appointment of Kingfisher's Roger Holmes as the new head of M&S's UK retail operations. The shares ended down 3p at 199p yesterday.

Nick Bubb, an analyst at SG Securities, said: "The shares are still grossly over-valued and it is altogether likely that they will fall further." Mr Bubb has a price target of 185p and warned that it "could well be revised downwards". Another analyst said: "This is a psychological blow more than anything. Whether anything has actually changed in M&S's fortunes in the past few hours, I doubt."

Both analysts said it was unlikely that M&S would attract a bidder given its current trading position. Earlier, there had been speculation that Philip Green, the retail entrepreneur, would seek to buy M&S and merge it with his recently-acquired Bhs stores chain.

M&S shares had dipped temporarily below 200p earlier in the week but before yesterday had managed to rally before the market closed.

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