Media reports put mysterious financier in the frame, but analysts are incredulous
Mark Paulsmeier, a South African financier, is considering a hostile takeover bid for Marks & Spencer, according to The Guardian today. Paulsmeier claims to have huge private capital, and says the offer was prompted by a mystery senior M&S executive who approached originally him in July.

The bid is expected to be as large as 410p a share in cash, which values M&S at£10.5 billion, and tops the offer Philip Green made last year by 10p a share.

According to the newspaper, 11 per cent of M&S shareholders are thought to back the bid and once 75 per cent is reached the bid will be triggered.

Paulsmeier expects the bid to be hostile because he feels the M&S board is unlikely to support it.

Little is known about Paulsmeier and his US venture capital backers Oakwell Associates, which claims a funding capacity of£61 billion.

Analyst estimations of a likely bid are slightly lower, but Seymour Pierce analyst Richard Ratner was sceptical that an offer will emerge from Paulsmeier. He said: 'Anyone who is prepared to go hostile at£9 billion without access to the books, especially given the pension issue, needs to see a shrink.'

M&S refused to comment on the speculation.