Philip Green's advisers attempt to court largest M&S shareholder

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The Independent Online

Philip Green, the retail entrepreneur stalking Marks & Spencer, is this week hoping to make contact with the high street giant's largest shareholder in a phone call that could decide whether or not Mr Green walks away.

Philip Green, the retail entrepreneur stalking Marks & Spencer, is this week hoping to make contact with the high street giant's largest shareholder in a phone call that could decide whether or not Mr Green walks away.

Brandes Investment Partners, the San Diego-based fund management group which controls 12 per cent of M&S's shares, is yet to reveal to either side its view of the takeover battle.

Mr Green's aides have been trying to arrange to lobby Amelia Morris, the senior analyst at Brandes, which they believe holds the key to the fortunes of his bid.

The board of M&S, under its interim chairman, Paul Myners and the new chief executive, Stuart Rose, took less than an hour to dismiss Mr Green's £8.4m cash offer last week, but his advisers are appealing direct to shareholders.

Most appear to agree that the offer of "at least 370p a share" will not be enough to win support, but some shareholders have indicated they wished Mr Green could be given some of the information he needs to decide whether his price can be raised.

The camp that Mrs Morris chooses to join will be critical. Mr Green believes that she could at least put pressure on the M&S board to take his overtures more seriously. He wants them to give him details of the pension fund deficit, the contract with designer George Davies, capital expenditure commitments and stock levels.

Mrs Morris, who is married to Ken, the former Wall Street banker who now writes thrillers, has been unavailable until now, but Mr Green's aides believe she will be ready for a discussion early this week.

Mr Green was leaving the courting of Mrs Morris to his advisers yesterday. "I'm spending the weekend resting my brain," he said.

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