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Tom Hunter Raises Dobbies Stake, May Make Bid

Shares in Dobbies Garden Centres jumped 17% on Thursday after property-to-retail tycoon Tom Hunter raised his stake in the firm and said he may make an offer to rival the agreed bid made by Tesco.

Shares in Dobbies were up 17% at 1785 pence, valuing it at 179 million pounds.

Britain's largest retailer announced last week the 156 million-pound ($307 million), 1,500 pence-a-share deal to buy Dobbies -- Britain's third-biggest garden centre chain with 21 stores in England and Scotland.

West Coast Capital, Hunter's investment vehicle, said in a statement on Thursday it had acquired a further 10% of Dobbies at 1,750 pence per share and now holds 20.6% of
the company.

"West Coast Capital is considering all its options in relation to its shareholding, one of which is a possible offer for the company," it said.

"We suspect that, rather than bidding and trying to take Tesco on in a straight fight, he is trying to frustrate Tesco getting to 75% (acceptances)," Seymour Pierce analyst Richard Ratner said in a note.