Analysts at the German investment bank WestLB Panmure, have cut their rating on Scottish & Newcastle to "neutral" from "outperform" with a 402 pence share price target.

In a research note, analyst Stuart Price said his rating was down to "the group's lack of a horizontally integrated business model and over-exposure to consolidated and intensely competitive markets".

"Given its 42 percent share of the French market, 34 percent share of the Russian market and 28 percent in the UK, we contend that the company is a sitting duck for potential bidders," said the note.