City round-up

M&S profits plunge; Boots owner considering sale

M&S label

Marks and Spencers’ struggle with turning around its fashion and homes division shows no sign of easing with half-year sales down 5.5%.

The high street chain, which was relegated from the FTSE 100 in September, reported a 17.1% slump in like-for-like pre-tax profits to £176.5m. Including one-off items pre-tax profit rose 51.1% to £153.3m.

The dividend has also been cut by a hefty 40% to 3.9p, as previously indicated.

Steve Rowe, chief executive, insisted: “For the first time we are beginning to see the potential from the far reaching changes we are making”.

Food sales were up 0.9% on a like-for-like basis.

Boots sale plan

The company which owns Boots is considering whether to delist from a US stock exchange in what would be the biggest ever leveraged buy out, according to agency reports.

Walgreens Boots Alliance has a stock market value of more than $55bn (£43bn) and is said to have asked Evercore Partners whether a deal can be done to take the business private.

If the deal is goes through it would be biggest of its kind since 2007 when utility TXU Corp was sold to private equity houses KKR and TPG in a deal worth about $45bn (including debt), according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Stefano Pessina owns 16% of the business and he conducted a buyout of what was then Alliance Boots in 2007.

There was no comment from Walgreens Boots Alliance.

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