Speculation that Sainsbury’s was about to become the subject of a new takeover bid from the Qatari Investment Authority was most likely a “share ramping exercise”, according to weekend press reports.

The Observer claims the speculation – which pushed shares in the supermarket giant up by around 8% last week – was probably designed to drive up the group’s value.

Shares in Sainsbury’s climbed to 347p last week amid the speculation, valuing the group at around £6bn.

QIA currently holds just under a third of the shares in the retail giant and last year pulled back from a £10bn takeover attempt.

Recent speculation had linked QIA to a joint approach with fellow shareholder Robert Tchenguiz, although analysts now regard this as unlikely. A renewed solo approach by QIA is thought to remain on the cards, however.