PARIS — A spokesman for Groupe Carrefour, Europe’s largest retailer, denied reports that the company was preparing to make a bid for British retailer Marks & Spencer.
Rumors of a possible offer Wednesday helped push up shares of Marks & Spencer 14.5 percent, to $4.13, on the London Stock Exchange.
Luc Vandevelde resigned as president of Promodes to join Marks & Spencer plc as executive chairman on Jan. 24, the day the European Commission approved the merger of Carrefour and Promodes. Sources believe this connection could be behind the speculation about a possible Carrefour bid.
In an unrelated story, Sara Lee Corp.’s hostile takeover bid for Courtaulds Textiles plc took a more contentious turn Wednesday with Courtaulds’s sale of the Georges Rech label and several other assets. The company, the U.K.’s largest supplier of intimate apparel and underwear, has pledged to return up to $79 million to shareholders following completion of the sale.
Courtaulds’s chairman John Eccles called Sara Lee’s offer “so low in relation to the value of Courtaulds, that it needs to be decisively rejected.”
Sara Lee chief executive John Bryan remarked in a statement that “pinning shareholders” hopes on the sale of so-called peripheral assets and a hopelessly ambitious restructuring program is just not good enough.”

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