Whitbread’s shares soared yesterday as takeover and break-up talk was rife around the owner of Costa Coffee.

The stock in Whitbread rose 22p to 3,948p on 22 March, as market rumours continued to suggest that investors were set to urge new chief executive, Alison Brittain, to separate Costa from the Premier Inn budget hotel chain and Beefeater pubs.

It is understood that some shareholders believe the case for examining a separation of its Costa stores has been strengthened by the downturn in Whitbread’s fortunes since Brittain’s arrival last summer.

The news came after Whitbread’s shares rose on Friday (18 March), as traders cited talk of potential bid interest.

Five year growth

Whitbread’s share price has climbed steadily over the past five years, to a peak of 5,410p last April, when former chief executive Andy Harrison expanded the group.

But earlier this month, Whitbread blamed mild weather and fewer shoppers on the high street for a slowdown in like-for-like sales at Costa in the past three months.