Greencore has denied it faces an imminent bid from own-label player Bakkavör after it was reported that a major shareholder in the Icelandic firm had built up an 8% stake in its rival.

"We have never made it our job to comment on shareholder activity," financial director Patrick Coveney told The Grocer. "There is no truth in the speculation."

Reports in an Irish newspaper this week stated Icelandic investor Exista, which has a 40% stake in Bakkavör, had bought more than an 8% stake in Greencore. The paper described a plan to merge the sandwich businesses of the two companies. It also suggested property developer Robert Tchenguiz, a board member of Exista, had built up a 10% stake. "As for the speculated Icelandic interest and Tchenguiz stake, we have seen no notification of interest to support these rumours," added Coveney.

Both investors are believed to have been building stakes via contracts for difference. Holders do not have to declare their interests. Last year it was speculated that Greencore's largest shareholder, developer Liam Carroll who owns close to 30%, was buying shares during an unusually high trading period in June in order to make a bid.