The proposed merger between Costcutter and Nisa-Today's may have flushed out a number of other potential bidders for Nisa, with cash and carry operator Bestway and the Co-operative Group believed to be interested.
The merger was on everyone's minds at last week's Association of Convenience Stores Summit in Birmingham, with one of the strongest rumours being that Bestway was also interested in tabling a bid for Nisa-Today's.
Last year Bestway shook up the carry and cash sector with the bold £100m takeover of rival Batley's to create the UK's second largest cash and carry. A move for Nisa would be an even more audacious move.
A number of Nisa-Today's members gave credence to the reports and claimed that the two companies could prove a good fit. One retailer said: "Bestway is a great operator but it is not traditionally strong in fresh and chilled produce. However, Nisa-Today's is great at this and together it could create a company that would really have Tesco worried."
A Bestway spokesman refused to comment on the speculation. Meanwhile, the Co-op - which failed in a bid for Nisa-Today's in 2004 - was also linked with fresh interest.
Nisa-Today's has been forced to put off the start of its charm offensive to sell the deal to its members because of a delay in the due diligence process, although a spokeswoman for Nisa-Today's said that this would not affect the timing of the final vote.
Members are due to get full details of the deal by the beginning of July and will have three weeks to decide on the plans.
A group of members concerned with the amount of debt that the merged operation would take on and the long-term future of the company has employed the services of David Greene, from solicitors Edwin Coe. The firm previously represented the Association of Convenience Stores before the Competition Appeals Tribunal in its ultimately successful fight to get the grocery market referred to the Competition Commission.