Hammerson ‘s shares soared today in a weak stock market, prompting talk of a takeover bid.

The shopping centre and London office specialist, saw its shares jump 3.6% to 1600p as Merrill Lynch said that it had bought 14.2m shares, or 5% of the company, to increase its stake to 5.2% and Morgan Stanley revealed a 4.3% holding. Yesterday the shares rose 3%.

One trader said there was talk of a bid from shopping centre giants Westfield and Simon Property Group. Other bidders potentially in the frame are British Land and Unibail.