The Sainsbury family have written to the prime minister of Qatar to emphasise their opposition to a highly leveraged buyout of the supermarket chain that bears its name by his investment fund, Delta Two. The Times.

It is understood that Lord Sainsbury of Turville and Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover wrote last week to Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani after a meeting in Sardinia this month.

They made it clear in the letter that they would not back any takeover of Sainsbury’s that left the group too heavily indebted or that sold off any of its property portfolio.