A rumour that Carrefour's largest shareholder the Halley family could be considering selling up has caused Carrefour shares to rise sharply today (14 March). However, the French retail giant has declined to comment on its uncertain ownership future.

"We have no comment," a spokesperson told just-food. "Management remains focused on delivering good service for our customers, ensuring the development of the company and growing shareholder returns," Carrefour added.

The Halley family currently holds a 13% stake in Carrefour. Last week, Robert Halley became Carrefour chairman after ousting Luc Vandevelde from the position.

According to a report that appeared on French website bousier.com citing banking sources, the family has asked two banks to negotiate a sale of its stake. This has raised speculation that billionaire Bernard Arnault and private equity group Colony Capital, who last week bought up a 9.8% stake in the retailer, could be potential buyers. Further conjecture has raised the possibility of a private equity buyout.

Carrefour shares were up 2.59% at time of press, rising to EUR53.96 (US$71.15).