Predator Green Threatens M&S With High Street Warfare

19 July 2004

Following his defeated takeover bid for UK high street retail giant Marks & Spencer [WAMN: 15-Jul-04], corporate raider Philip Green on Friday struck a defiant Churchillian pose, threatening to fight his former prey across Britain's high streets.

He would muster his Bhs battalions and Arcadia armour, Green growled. He would fight on the brassiere beaches, on the lingerie landing grounds and among the chilled chicken tikka marsala. The Monaco militant would never surrender.

"We are putting together a plan, Bhs has a variety of stores like theirs [M&S]and I will come back with a game plan in the first week of September," Green warned.

But he will not wage a price war "It's a combination of quality, value, marketing and positioning," he said. "We'll sharpen our game . . . we'll try a bit harder, work a bit harder on the stores."

But victorious M&S ceo Stuart Rose is not quaking in his shoes. Style not price will be the name of Green's game, he believes. "Of course he will keep us all sharp, but I think Philip is big enough and old enough to see that he's had his chance."

Unlike his heroic role model, however, Green whinged long and loud in adversity, complaining he had been treated "shabbily". He voiced his displeasure at M&S' board for its refusal to allow him access to its books and -- especially -- the City institutions that failed to publicly support his approach after allegedly pledging their shares in his favour.

He also complained that pension fund trustees would not agree to meet him. "Let's be perfectly clear from the obstacle course I was given, I didn't have a level playing field."

But many onlookers believe Green has not lost the M&S war, merely the first battle. Under UK takeover rules, he must now bide his time for at least six months before making another offer.

Opines fund manager Mark Webster of M&S shareholder State Street Global Advisors: "The acid test is in twelve months time."

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