The University of Auckland's bid to buy the 5.4ha Newmarket site owned by beverage and food company Lion may be trumped, say sources close to the deal.

Other buyers are said to have shown an interest in the ex-brewery between Khyber Pass and Park Rd where last decade AMP failed to realise a $1 billion real estate development plan.

But those close to the latest deal say the responses from Lion are mixed.

"Another group is trying to put together a deal for the site," said a developer. "They are saying the [University of Auckland] deal is not cemented and there is an opportunity to trump them. It's very confusing because other parties have been told directly by Lion that the deal is done and to go away."


The university is said to be considering selling its Epsom and Tamaki campus sites in favour of expanding on the Newmarket block, a site so large that it could suck in much of the $1 billion planned to be spent over the next decade.

Lion project director Jan Hofman referred inquiries to communications chief Liz Read, refusing to say if Newmarket was subject to multiple offers.

University property and communications chiefs remain tight-lipped but Newmarket Business Association chief executive Ashley Church has cautiously welcomed the university. Newmarket was consolidating its position as a leading business centre, "so creating a university campus would be an ideal fit with the association's current strategic plan provided any such development incorporated a broader vision", Church said.