Wincanton is running the rule over a possible merger with Eddie Stobart Logistics (ESL).

In a Stock Exchange announcement Wincanton said it is “currently undertaking a diligence exercise on Eddie Stobart and its assets, in order to enable it to assess the potential merits of a combination.

“No proposal has been made by Wincanton to Eddie Stobart as to the terms of any potential offer, and there can be no certainty that any offer will be made to Eddie Stobart shareholders."

The move comes just days after TVFC (3) Limited, a company controlled by former Eddie Stobart Group chief executive Andrew Tinkler, abandoned its interest in bidding for the company.

Discussions are continuing with private equity investor DBAY Advisors, ESL’s fourth largest shareholder.

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DBAY Advisors was the first company to make a bid for ESL, just weeks after an accounting scandal saw the haulier's AIM-listed shares suspended and CEO Alex Laffey step down to be replaced by Sebastien Desreumaux, former CEO of ESL subsidiary iForce.

DBAY, which is based in the Isle of Man, owned 51% of ESL before its stock market flotation in 2017. It has until 5pm on October 28 to either make a firm offer or abandon its bid.

Tinkler's company could still return to the fray as it has reserved the right to set aside its “No Intention to Bid Statement” under a number of circumstances, including if there is a material change in circumstances, or if rivals DBAY Advisors announces a firm offer for the company.