The chief executive of poultry business Inghams — which has been put up for sale — says there is interest in the family-owned company from Australian buyers but there is no certainty they will be able to compete with foreign bidders.
Inghams CEO Kevin McBain says he has received expressions of interest from Australian entities since company owner Bob Ingham's surprise announcement on Monday.
"I believe that there will be some interest because I have had a couple of inquiries this week," McBain told reporters on Friday.
"Whether they can compete with the offers that I expect will come from overseas remains to be seen."
He said he had referred the potential bidders to investment bank Investec, which is conducting the sale process.
McBain said potential overseas bidders could come from Thailand, Brazil, the US or the Arabian states.
He said the company had rejected approaches from private equity firms in the past, prior to the sale announcement.
Inghams, founded in 1918, has sales of about $2.2 billion a year and market speculation is it could sell for up to $1.5 billion.
Possible buyers could include global food giants such as Tyson Foods and Cargill of the United States, the Chinese government-owned food business Cofco and Thailand's CP Group.
Inghams is continuing its daily operations under McBain, who said he was "very excited" about the company's potential for growth and profitability.
McBain said there was strong growth potential in food supply, particularly with value-added products.
"The 15-minute meal is the buzzword of the industry," he said.
He said Inghams' cooking plants were suitable for processing meats other than chicken, indicating a potential channel for diversification.
Inghams said the sale process was expected to take several months.