The private equity owner of foodservice giant Brakes is believed to be considering bids from up to five potential buyers.
Owner Clayton Dubilier & Rice put Brakes on the market in March with a price tag of £1.2bn and is now understood to be close to agreeing a deal.
According to a Brakes insider, the five interested parties include US foodservice operator Sysco and four private equity bidders.
"I think there will be a deal soon," said the source. "It will be interesting to see who gets it. If it is one of the other private equity firms there probably won't be much change. However, Sysco might have its own ideas of how a foodservice business should work."
Based in Houston, Texas, Sysco is the biggest foodservice operator in the United States, with sales equivalent to £18.1bn for 2006. The group has made no secret of its hunger for major acquisitions.
The four private equity firms believed to have expressed an interest in taking over Brakes are US operators The Blackstone Group and Bain Capital Partners, and the UK-based CVC Capital Partners and Cinven.
A spokesman for CDR said that a second round of bids was due to be completed soon.
Much speculation has surrounded the deal since CDR initially put Brakes, which is the UK's biggest foodservice business, on the market.
As well as the latest potential bidders, other names in the frame have included Booker, Baugur and a bid fronted by former Asda boss Archie Norman.