M&S Whups Corporate Raider's Proposed Hostile Bid

15 July 2004

Philip Green, the colourful British corporate raider, on Wednesday flounced out of London's Royal Festival Hall, defeated in his pre-bid manoeuvrings by the Stonewall Jackson tactics of Paul Myners and Stuart Rose, respectively interim chairman and newly-appointed ceo of UK retail giant Marks & Spencer.

The majority of M&S shareholders yesterday's annual meeting rejected Green's deadline for 'in principle' acceptance of his £9.1 billion ($16.89bn; €13.64bn) bid. This is the entrepreneur's first public defeat since a little bout of unpleasantness in 1990 when he was ousted from discount retailer Amber Day for issuing a bungled profits warning.

But his more recent exploits have earned him much admiration among the denizens of London EC2 and Wall Street where Green enjoys -- or did until yesterday -- a reputation for invincibility.

This he gained by buying UK fashion chain Bhs for £200m in 2000 and turning it round in dazzling style; its worth is now estimated at over £1 billion. Two years later he achieved an even more spectacular coup with a £850m takeover of Arcadia Group, making him Britain's second-biggest retailer [after Tesco].

Green was not gracious in defeat, claiming he had been "treated with contempt" by the M&S board. Pointing a finger at chairman Myners, the entrepreneur (not usually famed for his sensitive disposition) complained: "It's disgraceful behaviour. We've been treated really shabbily."

It was at the three-thousand shareholder meeting that Green saw his carefully knitted bid strategy unravel after the M&S board made it clear it would not open its books to Revival, Green's acquisition vehicle.

Green had constructed a cunning tiger-trap, Myners told his audience. UK takeover rules mean that Revival "cannot increase its price following due diligence. It can reduce it".

The result? Green to Amber [Day]!

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff