Shares in the Dutch retail group Royal Ahold NV rose sharply this morning (12 June) on the back of weekend newspaper reports that a group of hedge funds is increasing its stake in the company with a view to breaking it up.

Ahold shares were up by 4.31% to EUR6.53 (US$8.23) in early trading.

The reports regarding a possible break-up of Ahold appeared in the newspaper The Business at the weekend. The paper said that the group of hedge funds was led by Centaurus, which now has around a 4% stake in the retailer,

Rabo Securities analysts Patrick Roquas and Karel Zoete said the news would increase pressure on Ahold’s management to improve results, divest of non-core activities and at least investigate the possibility of breaking the company up.

The break-up of Ahold has been mooted before without being pursued further, but Delta Lloyd Securities analyst Pascale Nachtergaele said he does not “discount the possibility of it actually happening this time”.