Industry sources believe that Chinese groups New Hope and WH could meet little competition in their reported swoop for poultry processor Moy Park.
Meat producer New Hope has emerged as a likely buyer of Craigavon, Co Armagh-based Moy Park, recently put up for sale by its Brazilian owner JBS with a rumoured $1.3 billion price tag.
It is thought likely to be up against another Chinese giant, WH, and US group, Tyson Foods, which recently said that it wanted to expand its chicken business.
Corporate finance sources say that the scale of the business, Ireland’s biggest chicken processor, could rule out bids from others linked to the deal in some reports.
Capvest, the fund established by Cavan man Seamus Fitzpatrick, and which has done a number of deals in the food industry, has also been named as a potential buyer.
However, the London-based fund and other European players are thought unlikely to be in the running at this stage.
Industry figures point out that funds such as this are unlikely to take on a business costing $1 billion-plus as their pockets are not deep enough.
Insiders have said that Chinese, far eastern or US buyers were most likely to take on the Irish company since the process began.
New Hope is the most recent name linked to the Irish company. WH was tipped as a potential buyer for Moy Park shortly after it went on the market this summer as was Tyson Foods.
Chairman Liu Yonghao grew New Hope from a business that bred chicken and quail for sale to farmers in China's Sichuan province in the 1980s. It now employs 70,000 people in 30 countries.
JBS Foods bought Moy Park two years ago for €1.32 billion but was forced to seek a buyer in June to help clear debts. It has also been caught in a corruption scandal in Brazil.
Moy Park reported a 7 per cent rise in pretax profit to €19.6 million for the 13 weeks to the end of July. It has 13 processing and manufacturing operations in Ireland, England, France and the Netherlands.