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M&S needs to manage succession as well as recession

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Marks & Spencer is finally getting to grips with the recession, first-quarter results from the bellwether retailer show. But it needs to sort out a row over management if its shares are to enjoy the full benefit.

Many investors are still up in arms over M&S’s decision last year to elevate the charismatic Stuart Rose to executive chairman — combining the roles of chairman and chief executive against corporate governance guidelines.

Rose survived a rebellion last year and must be hoping that forecast-beating first-quarter sales will draw the sting from opponents ahead of next Wednesday’s annual shareholder meeting.

But anger seems unlikely to die down. Three shareholder advisory groups — Glass Lewis, Pirc and RiskMetrics — have urged investors to back a rebel resolution which calls on M&S to appoint an independent chairman by July 2010.

from The Great Debate UK:

Greenbury’s Damascene conversion

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-- Neil Collins is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

REUTERSSir Richard Greenbury has had a Damascene conversion. The former boss of Marks & Spencer tells The Times that he's now in favour of continental-style two-tier boards, contrary to his own report into corporate governance 14 years ago.

The old bruiser thinks this would have prevented the emergence of the likes of Sir Fred Goodwin, the reviled former boss of Royal Bank of Scotland whose non-executive directors were too weak to question his o'ervaulting ambition.

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