Shares in Sainsbury's rose 5p to finish on 561p yesterday amid frenzied speculation that the private equity consortium currently assessing the supermarket group could table a bid as early as today (Thursday).

Last month the Takeover Panel gave private equity firms CVC Capital Partners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and The Blackstone Group a deadline of 13 April to reveal its intentions.

The consortium is under pressure to put forward an offer before the weekend because the retailer is unwilling to extend the deadline, according to reports in the Financial Times.

Reports in the Daily Telegraph suggest the consortium and Sainsbury's could be planning to meet today, even though the consortium is yet to secure an agreement with Sainsbury's pension fund trustees.

A spokesman for Sainsbury's pension fund trustees told The Times the regulator was unlikely to give approval on a deal without further talks. “The consortium would have to explain the benefits of the offer and what exactly they are offering the pension funds trustees,” the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, Asda has grown its share of the grocery market ahead of Sainsbury's, according to the latest figures from TNS Worldpanel.

Asda grew its share to 16.9% for the 12 weeks to 25 March, up from 16.3% for the same period last year. Sainsbury's share grew four base points to 16.4%.