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July 7, 2008

UK: Disgruntled M&S investors “plan AGM revolt”

Some 30% of shareholders in UK retailer Marks & Spencer are expected to vote against the plans to hand chief executive Sir Stuart Rose the role of executive chairman at the company’s AGM this week.

Some 30% of shareholders in UK retailer Marks & Spencer are expected to vote against the plans to hand chief executive Sir Stuart Rose the role of executive chairman at the company’s AGM this week.


According to reports in the UK, the scale of opposition to the move, first announced in March, has grown since last week’s profit warning from the company.


A large swathe of investors, including four of the company’s biggest – pension funds ABP, Universities Superannuation Scheme and Railpen, plus the Co-operative Insurance Society – are reportedly ready to vote against the proposal, which has faced criticism for breaching corporate governance guidelines.


The expected revolt comes with Sir Stuart likely to face some tough questions at Wednesday’s (9 July) AGM in the wake of last week’s bleak trading update.


Shares in M&S fell by more than 20% on 2 July after the company said weakening consumer confidence in the UK had hit sales.


M&S said underlying sales had slipped 5.3% during the 13 weeks to 28 June, with food sales down 4.5%.


The company also announced the departure of the head of its food business, Steven Esom, after just a matter of months in the job.


A spokesperson for M&S declined to comment on the possibility of a shareholder revolt on Wednesday.


“That’s just speculation at the moment, so we’ll just wait to see what happens,” the spokesperson told just-food.

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