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Marks & Spencer Turns Down Latest Takeover Offer

LONDON - U.K. retail chain Marks & Spencer PLC yesterday turned down an increased $16.7 billion takeover offer from retail entrepreneur Philip Green, but remained open to yet another offer, according to the AP and other published sources.

According to M&S, the latest offer, which valued the company's shares at 400 pence ($7.36) each, or about 9.1 billion pounds in all, undervalued the group and its prospects "significantly," so the M&S board could not accept. However, the chain asked Green for clarification on several matters, among them competition issues.

M&S' response left Green confused. "Why are they seeking clarification if they've rejected the offer?" he asked CNBC Europe. Although Green has said in the past that he wouldn't attempt a hostile takeover bid of the company, he has not said so lately, declining to answer direct questions on the subject.

M&S has already turned down Green's two earlier bids. Green said this week that his latest offer -- an 8 percent increase on his second bid -- was his final one.

Green also said that the latest offer had the backing of the largest M&S shareholder, San Diego-based Brandes Investment Partners LLC. According to Green, Brandes has consented to sell its 11.7 percent stake in M&S if he makes a formal bid.
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