H&M plans two-for-one stock split

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Swedish fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz AB is planning a two-for-one stock split in response to investor calls to make its shares more tradeable.

The world's third largest fashion chain by sales said on Wednesday its board would propose the split at its annual shareholders' meeting on April 29 and it would take effect between May 20 and June 18.

The company, which also made stock splits in the 1990s, said the decision to double the number of shares in issue came in response to demand from investors. We have many customers who would like to own shares and this move quite simply gives them easier access, said spokesman Nils Vinge.

H&M said the split would increase the number of its A-class shares to 194.4 million and B-shares to 1.461 billion.

Vinge noted the latest move was less dramatic than previous stock splits by H&M which multiplied the number of shares by a factor of four and five.

Shares in H&M, which have risen around 41 percent since the start of 2009 against a rise of 36 percent in the wider European retail sector <.SXRP>, were little affected by the news and traded flat at 440 crowns by 0850 GMT.

It was not expected, but on the other hand there will not be any fundamental effect -- you get double as many shares for half the price, said an analyst who asked not to be named.

H&M posted forecast-beating results for the fourth quarter as a pick-up in retail spending helped to reverse a trend of declining sales, and it has started 2010 strongly with same-store sales in positive territory.

(Editing by David Holmes)

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