In brief top news

Philip Green, the billionaire retail entrepreneur, issued a statement insisting he is not considering another offer for UK retail chain Marks and Spencer. He did, however, leave the door open for an offer if another party steps in. Press reports pointed to a possible offer for M&S from South African entrepreneur, Mark Paulsmeier. Monaco-based Green reserves the right to make an offer if a third party announces a firm intention to bid. Green announced an indicative offer for M&S last July at £9.1bn, or 400p per share. The offer was his second attempt to buy the UK’s leading clothing retailer.

  • Fonds de Reserve pour les Retraites (FFR) will recruit a consultant with a view to making a three-figure allocation to private equity. The French pension plan was set up in 1999 to provide support to France’s PAYG pension scheme. Last September, the French Finance Ministry urged domestic insurance companies to commit a further €6bn to private equity over three years.
  • Aldeasa, the Spanish airport retail group, said its board of directors had decided that the €31 per share full bid presented by Advent International’s Dufry Holding and Dufry Investment was inadequate. In a statement, Aldeasa said board members representing Altadis, which owns 35% of the company, had also rejected Dufry’s offer. Last month, Aldeasa’s board rejected a €29 per share bid from Compania Gestion de Explotaciones Aeroportuarias (GEA). That offer is led by Mercapital. Both GEA and Dufry’s bids have been cleared by stock market regulator CNMV, but a €33 per share bid from Autogrill is still awaiting approval.
  • Apax Partners has until March 21 to make a renewed bid for UK retail chain Woolworths, the UK’s Takeover Panel said. If the firm fails to act within that timeframe, it will be unable to bid for Woolworths again for at least six months. Apax has made a bid of 50p to 55p per share, valuing the company at between £718m and £790m. Woolworths said the bid did not warrant detailed discussions with Apax because it was undervalued.
  • Oaktree Capital is in exclusive negotiations to acquire a €1bn property portfolio form HSH Nordbank, according to reports. The Gehag deal involves a 21,000 portfolio of homes that HSH Nordbank acquired as a guarantee on a loan to WCM, the real estate group. WCM sold a €1.39bn portfolio of real estate assets in December to Blackstone. Gagfah was one of the largest deals in 2004, while the sale of Viterra property portfolio could top that at €6bn.
  • 3i’s quarterly European Enterprise Barometer showed that business confidence in Europe increased to +38 from +23. The weighted index, which measures business, political and economic confidence, showed strong gains in the Nordic region, France and Germany.