The founding family of UK supermarket Sainsbury's sold 40m shares this morning (1 February) worth approximately GBP176m (US$346.76m).

The Sainsbury family sold about 2% of the company, reducing its stake to 13.89%.

The move fuelled takeover speculation, driving share prices up by 2.65% to 445.25 pence at time of press. Takeover talk has bolstered shares in the retailer in recent weeks, with investment funds said to be eyeing the stake held by the family of Lord Sainsbury.

"We think it highly likely that property and/or financial investors are running the rule over Sainsbury," Numis Securities told clients in an investor note last week.