M&S close to huge property sale - paper


Troubled British retailer Marks & Spencer is close to selling 80 high-street stores in a deal that will raise up to £350 million sterling, the Sunday Businesssaid in an unsourced report.

M&S, Britain's biggest clothes retailer, has promised to return £2 billion to shareholders by March 2002, as falling profits and declining sales at its main clothing business have put off many investors.

Property sales would tie in with this strategy, and the company said in June it was considering raising around £300 million through the sale and leaseback of stores.

Shares in M&S closed up 0.6 per cent to 268p on Friday, valuing the stock at around £7 billion.