It’s easy to dismiss Bestway’s £250m “investment” in Sainsbury’s as the actions of a tilting upstart. It’s clearly in no position to pull off an acquisition via a debt-fuelled reverse takeover. And timing-wise, it’s arguably missed its moment from an investment point of view. Even before news broke of the 4.5% stake it’s now taken, Sainsbury’s share price was already up almost 50% from its low last October, including a 20% increase this year.

But this is no passive investment, relying on the Sainsbury’s management to boost the Pervez-Choudrey-Sheikh family’s wealth funds. No. We need to think of Bestway as activist investors, like Nelson Peltz, who got himself a seat on the Unilever board (and countless others before) with a stake way smaller than Bestway’s, and has taken an active role in the departure of CEO Alan Jope and the appointment of Hein Schumacher. Or Kelso Group with its new 0.4% stake in THG. Or MS Galleon, a Vienna-based investor that is trying to use its 30% stake in Topps Tiles to oust CEO (and ex-Sainsbury’s exec) Darren Shapland and make the DIY chain stock more tiles from a manufacturer it owns.

Bestway is “looking forward to supporting the executive management team”. That means altering the Sainsbury’s strategy, and with a view to bolstering the fortunes of Bestway in a far broader sense than shares alone. Sainsbury’s, of course, pulled out of its fledgling wholesale supply deal to focus on “food first”. But teaming up with other Sainsbury’s investors like Daniel Kretinsky and the Qatar Investment Authority, Bestway could form a powerful lobby for change, putting pressure on the Sainsbury’s board to do “a Tesco-Booker”. That deal achieved £200m of synergies, and who’s to say the combination of the Well pharmacy, retail franchise arm, combined buying capabilities, a strong property portfolio and better cash discipline couldn’t do something similar?

With a paper deal for a 10%-15% stake, Sainsbury’s wouldn’t even have to hand over any cash. So Sainsbury’s would remain a public company but controlled by Bestway and other non-execs. Smart, eh?