Reports suggesting U.S. businessman Malcolm Glazer has hired Commerzbank to study a possible bid for Manchester United Plc, have sent shares in the club soaring.

Glazer, owner of American football team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, raised his stake in Manchester United to 16.31%. The club’s shares have risen almost 5% amid speculation that Glazer could be about to mount a takeover bid.

The club’s shares rose as high as 290 pence before falling back to 277p. This was in the wake of a Financial Times report claiming Malcolm Glazer had instructed Commerzbank to explore a takeover bid.

A spokesman for Manchester United said the club regularly sppoke with Glazer because of his significant shareholding and would continue to do so, but refused to comment on the prospects of a bid.

The share price has more than tripled in value since November 2002 as the club’s major investors have built up their stakes. Irish racehorse owners John Magnier and J.P. McManus, are the bigest shareholders, owning 28.89% of the Premier League champions.