Supermarket giant Sainsbury’s confirmed this morning that it had received a preliminary approach from Qatari-backed investor group Delta Two regarding a potential takeover bid.

In a statement to the Stock Exchange, Sainsbury’s said: ‘J Sainsbury confirms it has received a preliminary approach from Delta (Two), which may or may not lead to an offer being made for Sainsbury's. The board will make a further announcement, as appropriate, in due course.’

It is understood that Delta, which owns 25% of Sainsbury’s, made an informal approach of 610p a share to the Sainsbury family, which owns an 18% stake, last week. Delta manager Paul Taylor is thought to have met members of the family in Sardinia to discuss the approach.

In April, Sainsbury’s rejected a high-profile bid of 580p a share from private equity group CVC Capital Partners.

Delta is thought to be courting property entrepreneur Robert Tchenguiz to try and win his backing for the bid. Tchenguiz is thought to have a stake close to 10% in the retailer.

Earlier this year, the board rejected Tchenguiz’s proposal to create a 50-50 joint venture that would unlock the value of the supermarket’s estimated £10bn property portfolio by creating a separate property group and operating company, and returning cash to shareholders.

Sainsbury’s is thought to currently hold the freehold to about 60% of its stores, compared to rivals Tesco, Morrisons and ASDA, who hold 80% plus. The board is thought to have been wary about being at a disadvantage to their rivals and the extra burden rental payments would place on the balance sheet.