Lebanese PM lifts stake in Sainsbury’s

AN INVESTMENT fund founded by the Lebanese Prime Minister yesterday upped its stake in Sainsbury’s to more than three per cent, lifting the supermarket’s share during afternoon trading.

Founded more than 40 years ago by brothers Taha and Najib Mikati – who has twice served as Lebanese PM since 2005 – the M1 Group today is a diversified investment company with interest ranging from South African telecoms to London real estate.

The investment arm’s interest in Sainsbury’s is largely seen as a play on the company’s property assets, which are estimated to be worth almost twice its market capitalisation.

In the supermarket’s last annual report, its property portfolio was valued at £10.9bn. Its share price closed up 1.35 per cent yesterday at 292.9p, valuing the company at around £5.6bn.

Sainsbury’s largest shareholder is still the Qatari Investment Authority with 26 per cent of the retailer. Despite a failed takeover bid in 2007, speculation remains that the Qataris could renew their interest in the supermarket in the future.