The French food and drinks group, Danone, has dismissed speculation that it has become an imminent takeover target after its share price surged on Thursday. Danone's shares rose by 5% to a 2003 high of €135.

Both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo were suggested as possible bidders for the company which owns Evian water among other soft drinks brands.

However, a Danone spokesman was scathing about the rumours. "This is a classic, old, recurrent rumour and we do not understand why, since it is such a repeated rumour, it should set off such a reaction," the spokesman said.