Rumour is rife within the industry that the Ireland-based Brooks Group is up for sale.

However, parent company UPM in Finland is refusing to confirm or deny whether it has decided to sell the company which has branches throughout Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

And further claims in the Irish press that the company could be bought by either the Heiton or Grafton Group also remain unsubstantiated.

Analysts in Ireland are tipping Heiton Group as the favourite to buy the Brooks Group, despite Grafton Group’s purchase of an additional 5.3% shares in Heiton, bringing its shareholding close to the 29.9% level that, according to the Irish Times, would force it to bid for its smaller rival.

Meanwhile the Sunday Business Post, has reported that analysts say Heiton holds pole position amongst potential bidders for the Brooks Group as the two companies have branches on the same street in five locations which could create instant savings.

All parties are remaining tight-lipped about the developments. A UPM spokesperson said: “This is market gossip and we don’t comment on that.”

A Grafton Group spokesperson said: “We don’t comment on share acquisitions” while Eddie Kelly for Heiton Group said: “I have been hearing the rumours in relation to Brooks but we are a public company and when something like this arises we are in a very strict ‘no comment’ situation.”

Brooks Group managing director John Walshe said: “I don’t comment on rumours.”