Shares in Marks & Spencer rose to their highest level since October 2010 this morning following reports over the weekend that the Qatar Investment Authority was considering a bid for the retailer.

Having already climbed 3% at the end of last week as bid rumours circulated the City, a Sunday Times report sent the shares surging 9% in early trading this morning to a high of 407.7p.

The newspaper said the Qatari state’s sovereign wealth fund was mulling an £8bn takeover bid and had sounded out private equity houses and lenders.

M&S has made no official stock market statement to confirm or deny the rumours.

The high-street retailer, which has come under pressure of late because of weak clothing sales, was subject to bid rumours last autumn. Private equity firm CVC was reportedly considering a bid but pulled out when its plans became public.