Former Marks & Spencer chairman Sir Stuart Rose is at the centre of speculation that he has sold a big tranche of shares in the retailer.
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There were restrictions on Rose reducing his stake until the beginning of this month but has been keen to diversify his interests, the Daily Mail reported.
Sources said that a disposal by Rose would not be seen as a vote of confidence in Marks & Spencer under its new leadership.
Rose would not say whether he had sold shares but told the newspaper: “I am still a shareholder of M&S.”
Asked if he was still a substantial shareholder he replied: “That depends on what you call substantial – I have more than five bobs worth.
“Now that I have left M&S I don’t have to quantify my holding – for once privacy’s on my side.”
Over the weekend it emerged that Rose has taken a stake in online retailer The Hut and become chairman of Mobile money Network, a joint venture between Carphone Warehouse founder Charles Dunstone, Best Buy Europe and payments firm Monitise.