The board of J Sainsbury has confirmed that it is in talks with a Middle Eastern investment firm over a potential £12 billion takeover.
A statement to the London Stock Exchange this morning said that the supermarket chain had received a "preliminary approach" from Qatar-based Delta Two.
Initial reports say that the investment firm, which already owns a 25 per cent stake in Sainsbury, is prepared to submit a bid of 610p per share.
"J Sainsbury confirms it has received a preliminary approach from Delta Two Limited, which may or may not lead to an offer being made for Sainsbury's," a statement said.
"The board will make a further announcement, as appropriate, in due course."
A report in the Financial Times today claims that the influential Sainsbury family is unsupportive of any potential offer.
The family owns an 18 per cent stake in the business and played a prominent role in the rejection of private equity group CVC's £10.1 billion takeover offer earlier this year.
It has also reacted lukewarmly to claims from real estate tycoon Robert Tchenguiz who owns a five per cent stake in the supermarket that Sainsbury should divide its holdings into separate retail and property interests.