Shares in UK supermarket chain Morrisons jumped as much as 2.9% on rumours that the it could be the subject of a takeover approach by US online retail giant Amazon.com.
Chatter about the rumour was mentioned on the Financial Times’ Alphaville markets chatroom.
The chatroom moderator said: “There’s a mad story going round the traps about Amazon going for Morrisons ... Looks to me like wild speculation, but stranger things I guess...”
The supermarket chain has struck wholesale supply deals with Amazon and is widely seen as a potential takeover target for the US company as it moves into bricks-and-mortar retailing after its takeover of Whole Foods in the US.
A spokesman for Morrisons said the company does not comment on speculation about transactions.
Morrisons’ share price outperformed its rivals, who fared varyingly in latest UK supermarket sales data.
Asda, which has agreed a takeover by rival Sainsbury’s, was alone among the UK’s big four grocers in holding its market share against the continued rise of German discounters Aldi and Lidl, in the latest 12-week period, the industry data showed.
Asda’s sales rose 1.5% in the 12 weeks to December 2 and it maintained its UK grocery market share at 15%, market researcher Kantar Worldpanel said.
In contrast, Sainsbury’s sales slipped 0.2% and its share dipped to 16% from 16.4% a year ago.
Sainsbury’s, Britain’s second largest supermarket group, agreed a £7.3bn (€8.01bn) takeover of Asda, the UK’s number three, in April, a combination that could overtake Tesco as Britain’s biggest supermarket group.
The deal is currently being investigated by Britain’s regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority, which is expected to publish its initial findings next month.
Sainsbury’s shares were up marginally having been down nearly 1% in early trading. Tesco’s sales declined by 0.1%, while Morrisons’ were up 0.5%. Tesco’s shares were up by nearly 1%, having been down earlier by roughy the same percentage.
German-owned discounters Aldi and Lidl continued to be the big winners with sales increases of 12.2% and 11.2% respectively, partly reflecting aggressive store opening programmes.
Kantar Worldpanel said overall UK grocery sales rose 2% over the 12-week period, its slowest rate since March 2017.