Sainsbury's share price escalated once again today (19 February), as Marks & Spencer was linked with a move to acquire the supermarket chain, possibly through a tie-up with a Qatari investment fund.

The Sunday Telegraph said that M&S was weighing up a possible offer for Sainsbury, and might make a joint bid with Qatar-based Delta Two.

A spokesperson for Marks & Spencer told just-food that the company had no comment to make regarding either Sainsbury or Delta Two.

Meanwhile, citing unnamed sources a further report by AFX news this afternoon said that M&S had not held talks with the Middle Eastern investment fund and that there was no suggestion of the two parties collaborating on a bid.

Sainsbury shares rose 1.59% to 512 pence (US$9.96) on the London Stock Exchange this morning. Its shares went up 15% to 511.5 pence earlier in the month, following an announcement from private equity groups CVC, KKR and Blackstone that they were assessing Sainsbury.

The combination of two of the UK's largest retailers would mean that the combined group owned more than 1,000 stores in the UK, with the majority being under the Sainsbury banner.