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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 June, 2004, 17:12 GMT 18:12 UK
M&S tries to forestall Green bid
Stuart Rose
New M&S boss Stuart Rose is said to be behind the legal challenge
Marks & Spencer has won an injunction blocking billionaire Philip Green's takeover bid before it is launched.

The injunction prevents City law firm Freshfields from advising Mr Green on the takeover bid - which he had been expected to launch on Thursday.

M&S claimed at the High Court in London that Freshfields should not be allowed to act against the retailer as it is a former client of the firm. Mr Green has until 0930 GMT on Thursday to appeal against the decision.

In court, M&S lawyers Slaughter & May said Freshfields had a conflict of interest because it had advised M&S on a contract drawn up to bring clothes designer George Davies from Asda to M&S to design the Per Una range of clothes.

The M&S legal team argues that this gives Freshfields an inside knowledge of M&S.

Higher offer?

The High Court decision could seriously delay Mr Green's bid.

All parties have declined to comment, but it is believed the legal challenge is fully supported by new M&S boss Stuart Rose.

Appointed on Monday, he is leading M&S's fight to repel any takeover bid unless it values the company at a significant premium.

Mr Rose replaced Roger Holmes, who was ditched by M&S in a swift response to news of the possible bid.

The struggling High Street icon is expected to face a bid of up to 10bn ($18.4bn) from Mr Green.

Mr Green, who owns clothing chain Bhs and retail group Arcadia, stunned the City last week after revealing he was considering a bid for M&S.

Mr Rose, boss of Arcadia before the Green takeover, also faces the challenge of turning around falling sales at M&S.

He began his retail career with a 17-year stint at M&S, and is credited with forging a turnaround at Arcadia, owner of the Top Shop and Dorothy Perkins clothing chains.

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