US investment giant Apollo mulls M&S buyout

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A US investment company has reportedly been considering a buyout of M&S.

According to the Times, New York-based Apollo Global Management deemed the 137-year-old high street retailer a “bargain”.

The firm told city sources it believed M&S’s shares were “weighed down unreasonably” by the impact of Covid.

The alternative investment management company reportedly thought the market had failed to attribute enough value to M&S’s 50% share of Ocado’s retail business.

M&S paid the grocery retailer £750m for the Ocado.com joint-venture in 2019, following the expiration of Ocado’s deal with Waitrose.

However, the Times reported it was not yet clear whether Apollo’s interest had been “dampened” by a recent surge in M&S shares, which have risen by 24% on upgraded profit forecasts.

The high street brand reported a surge in pre-tax profits to £187m for the six months to October – 17.9% up on the period two years ago. The business was helped by increased consumer spending, it said.

M&S chief executive Steve Rowe said growth was boosted by pent-up demand after lockdown, and the firm’s long-term restructuring had also bolstered the business.

Last year, M&S confirmed 7,000 jobs would be cut across stores and management as part of an overhaul – although about a tenth of jobs lost were voluntary redundancy and early retirement.

In October, the retailer announced it was closing its Bristol Broadmead store after nearly 70 years. The decision to shut the store is, in part, being driven by changing consumer habits in the retail industry, which has seen a major shift towards online shopping in recent years.

Apollo decline to comment on the buyout report. BusinessLive has contacted M&S for a statement.