Qatar-backed property investment group Three Delta yesterday paid £1.4bn to become the biggest shareholder in Sainsbury's, adding to speculation that the board would sell property to mollify activist investors. Daily Telegraph. Financial Times

Three Delta, a group backed by the state of Qatar, is understood to have bought the 248.7m shares, a 14.4% stake, at 575p a share from AllianceBernstein, previously the leading shareholder, only two weeks after an £11bn takeover bid by a CVC-led private equity consortium fell through.

Robert Tchenguiz, who owns more than 5% of Sainsbury's, and has called on the board to gear up its balance sheet and return money to shareholders. He is not working with the Qataris, but welcomed their presence on the shareholder register on Wednesday.

'We’re delighted that they are a shareholder,' he said. 'It shows that there are more real estate investors out there with real operating experience. Having worked with Paul Taylor [who runs Three Delta] in the past, we are very aware of his ability in the market.'