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.
There were restrictions on Rose reducing his stake until the beginning of this month but he 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.”