LONDON, (Reuters) – Shares in British grocer J Sainsbury jumped as much as 5.5 percent on Tuesday, with traders citing renewed speculation that top shareholder Qatar Holding might look at a takeover bid.
“Hearing talk of Qataris bidding 450 pence (per share) for Sainsbury,” said one trader.
Sainsbury and Qatar Holding, which owns about 26 percent of Britain’s third-biggest supermarket group following a failed takeover attempt in 2007, said they never comment on rumor and speculation.
At 1255 GMT, Sainsbury shares were up 4.7 percent at 374.4 pence, off an earlier high of 377.2 pence. Nearly 7 million shares had changed hands, compared with a daily average of 4 million in the past 90 trading days.
Two traders suggested the bid speculation had revived after Germany’s biggest builder Hochtief said on Monday that Qatar Holding, an investment vehicle of the Gulf state’s government, was buying a 9.1 percent stake in it for 400 million euros ($534 million).
Qatar, the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, has invested in a string of international businesses as it looks to diversify and bring foreign expertise into its fast-growing economy.
The focus has largely been on banking and China, but it has also put money into the retail sector. Earlier this year, Qatar Holding bought London department store Harrods in a deal reported to be worth about 1.5 billion pounds.
Qatar built up most of its stake in Sainsbury at around 575 pence before proposing a deal at around 600 pence a share. That was opposed by the Sainsbury family, which retains a stake of around 15 percent in the business.
One trader said Sainsbury’s shares could also be benefiting from a better-than-expected trading update from larger rival Tesco.