Shares in Minerva, the City focused property company, jumped 18% to 196p on the back of speculation that it was a takeover target for Gulf investors. The Times

8m shares changed hands compared to a usual daily average of just 1.4m. Dealers cited Saudi group Saad Investments

But sceptical market sources pointed to an upgrade from Merrill Lynch as an alternative source of the renewed interest in Minerva. Merrill lifted its recommendation on the property company to neutral from sell, arguing that the stock has been over-sold due to exaggerated concerns about the commercial property market.