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July 11: Lord Burns takes over as chairman of Marks and Spencer at the annual meeting this afternoon. The retailer may be on a roll but its shareholders must be wondering what to expect from AGMs in the future, when he will be in the chair. He is a brilliant man, of course, and a non-executive director of Pearson, owner of the Financial Times. But some of the longest hours I have ever endured as a reporter were spent watching him lose control of Abbey National shareholder meetings. Lord Burns takes over as M&S chairman from Paul Myners, who gave a virtuoso performance at the AGM two years ago which spelt the end of Philip Green’s takeover ambitions. Much more importantly, Stuart Rose has delivered another strong set of sales figures. The group’s shares, little changed today, stand at 588½p – a long way from the 400p that (now Sir) Philip Green was talking of offering two years ago.
Very strong trading figures from the London Stock Exchange. The direct comparison the LSE draws between how many foreign listings it had attracted (50) and how many have been drawn to the NYSE and Nasdaq (15 combined) looks a little cocky in the current takeover environment.
We also have a decent trading statement from Man Group, and amusing results from Falkland Oil & Gas. Full-year losses widened but new seismic data are being evaluated which suggests that “multi-billion barrel discoveries” may be possible.
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