UK retailer MARKS AND SPENCER has labelled reports it has been approached by CVC Capital Partners over a potential takeover offer as “speculation”.

The private equity firm is understood to have explored taking M&S private, having approached executives about a possible management role under private equity control, according to Bloomberg.

The buyout firm, however, has not moved beyond a preliminary examination of the UK retailer and is not currently thought to be pursuing a bid, the publication was told by unnamed sources.

A spokesperson for Marks and Spencer told just-food it was not commenting on the reports, adding that if an offer was made that it would be announced to the London Stock Exchange. “This is purely rumour and speculation,” the spokesperson said.

CVC Capital Partners did not return a call for comment.

In May, the retailer reported a 0.2% fall in underlying pre-tax profit to GBP705.9m (US$1.11bn) for the 12 months to the end of March. On a reported basis, pre-tax profits were down 15.7% at GBP658m.