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Apollo Eyes M&S And Its £2B Property Portfolio

M&S is a potential takeover target.

U.S. private equity firm Apollo Global Management is considering a takeover bid for retailer Marks & Spencer, as buyout firms continue to target retailers with significant real estate assets.

Apollo ran the rule over M&S and considers the firm a “bargain” due to the steady decline of its shares over the past five years, The Sunday Times reported. Shares in the company have dropped 26% in the past five years due to shareholder perception the company was not keeping up with the pace of change brought about by online retailing. The company has a market capitalisation of about £4.7B. 

Apollo was one of the bidders for supermarket chain Asda, ultimately losing out to EG Group, and considered joining a consortium with Fortress to bid for Morrisons earlier this year. In both of those deals, the property portfolio of the retailers was a big draw for potential buyers.

M&S has a portfolio of about 1,000 stores across the UK totalling 16.8M SF, and owns about £2B of the real estate it occupies. Joint ventures and sales of property are key planks of how the new owners are making a return on their purchases of Asda and Morrisons.

About a third of M&S’ £1.5B of first-half 2021 sales came from e-commerce. It is planning store cuts, and it will reduce the number of store locations selling both food and clothing by 30%, to 180.

An analysis of M&S’ results by The Times showed that 7.6M SF of its store space is on UK high streets, 4.3M SF in retail parks, 1.5M SF in shopping centres, 3.1M is standalone Simple Food stores and 300K SF is in outlet centres. In terms of sales, retail parks are outperforming high street stores, hence the desire to reduce this part of the portfolio.