Cumbrian Seafoods is likely to fall into foreign hands after being put up for sale, with Pacific Andes Group a strong contender, industry sources have claimed.

Cumbrian, which supplies chilled fish to the UK mults, said last week that it was open to investment and takeover offers, and had tasked KPMG Corporate Finance to "explore its options". It added that it had already received "several approaches from parties wanting to either invest in or buy this business".

The announcement has sparked speculation as to which companies would be most interested in buying or investing in Cumbrian.

A well-placed source within Birds Eye suggested it might prove attractive to a global seafood giant looking to gain a foothold in the UK market such as Pacific Andes Group. PAG led the consortium of investors that bought Icelandic Group's French and German businesses in the summer and does not have any UK presence at the moment. A second seafood source also considered foreign rather than domestic investment the most likely scenario.

"There are a number of global operators who could potentially be interested in Cumbrian," he said. PAG told The Grocer it would not comment on "market rumours", but that it was "always on the lookout for investment opportunities that fit our strategy".

Birds Eye itself wouldn't be interested in Cumbrian, the Birds Eye source insisted, given its focus on frozen fish and Cumbrian's focus on chilled. Fellow UK fish giant Young's, and its Continental parent Findus Group, are also considered unlikely to bid for Cumbrian.

One source claimed Young's was currently struggling to fill its own capacity, adding "why would you want to buy capacity in an oversupplied market?"

Young's declined to comment.Another potential UK buyer, Sco-Fro, said it was always looking at new opportunities, but would not comment on whether it was interested in Cumbrian.