Speculation that Qataris investors are mulling a bid for supermarket group Sainsbury’s has been undermined by a share sale by chief executive Justin King.

Yesterday King sold 300,000 Sainsbury’s shares at 346p each and 172,446, exercised under his long-term incentive plan, at 343.9p.

Arden Partners analyst Nick Bubb said: “The sale seems to put the kybosh on the recent rumours that the Qataris are preparing a 500p bid.

“There never seemed too much justification in the first place for the view that the Qataris would throw good money after bad.

“The average cost of the stake they built three years ago was 570p to 580p and their involvement in a top-of-the-market LBO bid back in 2007 is probably more of an embarrassment to them now than anything else.”