A Qatar-based property group with close links to Robert Tchenguiz has taken a whopping 17% stake in Sainsbury's, renewing takeover speculation and increasing the likelihood of a major restructuring of the supermarket's asset structure.

Shares in the retailer rose 38p to finish on 568p after Three Delta reportedly bought a 14.4% stake to become the retailer’s largest shareholder, sparking rumours that the firm could be interested in making a bid.

However, analysts dismissed takeover rumours. “This is not a prelude to a bid, but a lever to force the board to split the company into propco and opco,” said Richard Ratner, an analyst at Seymour Pierce.