March 27, 2017 / 6:05 AM / 4 months ago

Australian department store firm Myer shares rise 18 pct on heavy trading

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SYDNEY, March 27 (Reuters) - Shares in Australia's biggest department store operator by sales, Myer Holdings Ltd, surged 18 percent on Monday after 10 percent of the stock changed hands in a single trade, sparking speculation of corporate activity.

"Quite a big spike in volume has the market thinking, 'Who is buying a stake in the group?'," CommSec market analyst Steven Daghlian said.

The large share trade was worth A$93 million ($70.96 million).

The Australian Financial Review newspaper, without saying where it got the information, said sources had named Australian retail magnate Solomon Lew as a possible buyer.

Lew is the chairman of listed retailer Premier Investments Ltd. Premier's chief executive, Mark McInnes, previously headed Myer's biggest rival, department store David Jones.

South Africa's Woolworths Holdings Ltd bought David Jones in 2014 after Lew's company initially blocked the deal by buying a large stake of the takeover target.

A spokesman for Myer declined to comment on the share trading, while a spokeswoman for Premier was not immediately available for comment.

Myer shares have fallen 8.7 percent since the start of the year despite the large gains on Monday. The Melbourne-based company on March 16 said sales in January and February had been below expectations. ($1 = 1.3106 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Byron Kaye and Stephen Coates)

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