Greencore's chances of snapping up Northern Foods receded this week after Ranjit Boparan won further shareholder support for his bid.

Boparan confirmed late on Wednesday that he had secured the backing of 23% of shareholders for his 73p-a-share cash offer for Northern Foods in a deal worth £342m. Combined with his existing shareholdings, this increases the amount of support for the deal to 34.4%.

Boparan has now extended his deadline for acceptances to 16 March as he looks to gain the 75% backing required to make his bid unconditional.

Greencore has until 27 March to offer a counter bid for Northern and said on Thursday it was still considering its options.

Analysts doubted it would be able to match Boparan. "While the strategic desire was there from Greencore, it was a question of whether they could put financing in place," said Evolution Securities analyst Alex Sloane. "It would be very difficult for them to go it alone in order to match Boparan's offer."

Greencore is believed to be tapping up third parties to help stump up a higher offer with a possible spin-off of Northern's Fox's and Goodfella's business. However, Sloane said he doubted there was much appetite in the market from private equity.