Delivered wholesaler Palmer & Harvey (P&H) is subject to a takeover bid from one of Britain’s biggest fuel networks.
Brookfield Business Partners, which this week completed a takeover of road-fuel supplier Greenergy, is one of several firms which have made bids for P&H in recent days, Sky News reported.
Private equity company Carlyle has also made a bid, according to insiders.
P&H is trying to recruit new investors to help make a long-term agreement with two of the world’s biggest tobacco manufacturers.
Employing around 4,000 people, P&H is the biggest tobacco distributor in Britain, supplying thousands of independent retailers and all of Tesco’s stores.
Greenergy, which has called itself as the UK’s only national fuel supplier, already delivers to supermarkets and independent forecourt operators across the country.
Tobacco giants Imperial Brands and Japan Tobacco International would be faced with massive supply chain problems if P&H collapsed.
Earlier this year, Sky News revealed that the two companies had hired accountancy firms Deloitte and EY to advise them on the future of P&H, which owes them tens of millions of pounds.
Sainsbury’s has also explored a bid for P&H, and after pulling out of discussions to buy Nisa Retail, it could renew interest.
Under pressure from Imperial Brands and JTIP&H hired PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to oversee a sale process.
In April, the two tobacco companies lent millions of pounds to P&H to secure its immediate future.
P&H is one of the UK’s biggest private companies by sales, and among the largest to be owned by current and former employees.
A spokesperson for P&H said: “The process of exploring our options is progressing well. Having received expressions of interest from a number of parties, we are confident of a successful outcome.”