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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 July, 2004, 05:27 GMT 06:27 UK
Green abandons M&S takeover plan
Philip Green
Philip Green said he would go the beach if his offer was rejected
Retail tycoon Philip Green has scrapped his takeover approach to Marks & Spencer after failing to win sufficient support from shareholders.

Mr Green had hoped that investors would use M&S's annual meeting on Wednesday to voice support for his proposed 9.1bn ($16.9bn) offer.

Instead they gave their backing to the current board and chief executive.

Newly-appointed boss Stuart Rose will now have to prove that his team can deliver more value to shareholders.

Sweeteners

On Monday, M&S unveiled a reform package aimed at fending off Mr Green.

The company has promised to boost profits, revamp its image and focus on winning back customers. It also will return 2.3bn to shareholders.

They are going to have us breathing down their neck in every street and every shopping centre in the UK
Philip Green

Vitally, the board of directors also refused to approve Mr Green's approach and denied him access to company accounts.

Mr Green was not willing to table a formal bid within the 6 August deadline without first checking M&S's books.

Speaking on BBC2's Newsnight programme, Mr Green said he had been treated with "contempt" and that he was surprised that the board had refused to meet with him and his advisors.

Mr Green now plans to concentrate on his other businesses, adding he was going to give it his best shot.

"They are going to have us breathing down their neck in every street and every shopping centre in the UK."

"And then we'll see who the best retailer is."

Showdown

Monaco-based Mr Green reckoned he had the backing of about a third of M&S shareholders, including some of the world's best-known investment firms.

M&S shareholders gather at the AGM
Thousands of shareholders attending the meeting
Earlier on Wednesday, M&S's largest shareholder, US firm Brandes, urged the company to open its books to Mr Green.

But in the end, it would prove too little to swing the deal in his favour.

Especially as other investors thought that his offer of 400 pence a share, the third he had tabled, was still not large enough.

Standard Life Investments, which owns about 2% of M&S, said on Tuesday it was rejecting the proposed bid because it undervalued the company's recovery prospects.

The BBC's business editor Jeff Randall told News 24 that: "It's the big shareholders, the big institutions, the big guns from Wall Street and the City that really dictate this."

"They have closed the door on Philip Green and he has walked away."

Head to head

The battle for control of M&S has involved two of the UK retail industry's biggest names.

M&S chief executive Stuart Rose
Stuart Rose will now have to meet investors' heightened expectations

Mr Green is the swashbuckling tycoon who made his name with the break-up of the Sears group in the late 1990s.

He has also seen success after turning around retail chain Bhs and buying the Arcadia retail group, which owns Top Shop.

Mr Rose, meanwhile, worked at Debenhams and Argos before moving to troubled cash-and-carry business Booker, where he arranged a merger with frozen food retailer Iceland.

But it was as head of Arcadia that Mr Rose secured his reputation, turning around a company lumbered with more than 250m of debt.

He also presided over the sale of Arcadia to Mr Green for 855m - making 25m out of the deal himself.

The two men are thought to be generally on friendly terms, though in coming months the spotlight is expected to shine more brightly on Mr Rose and his efforts at M&S.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Jeff Randall
"He pulled the plug. He just walked out of there"



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