Shares in the UK’s third-largest grocer were up over 12% this morning at around 350p, as talk of a takeover attempt at as much as 420p a share stoked speculation in an already bullish market. If it’s true – an important proviso as neither party has so far made any statement – that would represent a pretty tasty premium on the current market value.
For those of you with short memories, the Qatari authorities have already had a stab at buying Sainsbury’s, in the heady boom days of 2007. That £11bn proposal was derailed by the rather swift onset of the credit crunch, as well as the uphill task of persuading the Sainsbury family to sell up. The attempt left the Qatari’s with a hefty 26% holding, so it’s not that much of a surprise if they are back again, this time to try and seal the deal.
Now it’s the $59bn sovereign wealth fund the Qatari Investment Authority in the driving seat, last time it was their investment fund Delta (Two). But since they are both backed by the emirate’s top government ministers and royal family, it doesn’t really make much difference in terms of who is calling the shots.