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Unilever Shares Gain on Speculation about Takeover

Shares in Unilever rose more than 4% Wednesday on speculation in the market about Colgate-Palmolive being interested in all or part of the consumer products maker.

A spokesman for Unilever did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

New York-based Colgate-Palmolive , whose brands include Colgate, Palmolive, Mennen, Softsoap and Irish Spring, did not immediately return a call. The company's shares rose 0.2% to $65.87 (48.24 euros) on the New York Stock Exchange.

Shares in Unilever rose 4.1% in London to 1,714 pence (25.33 euros; $34.59), following a gain of 1.9% a day earlier, when food companies were lifted by French yogurt and water company Danone's 12.3 billion euros ($16.75 billion) bid for Dutch nutritional business Royal Numico.

Unilever, the owner of brands such as Knorr soup, Dove soap and Ben & Jerry's ice cream, had said in February that full-year net profit rose 26% to 4.75 billion ($6.17 billion), while sales rose 3.1% to 39.6 billion euros ($51.44).

A poor performance after the turn of the century led to a management shake up at Unilever in 2004. Since then, the company has been targeting sales growth by investing heavily in its biggest brands while trying to maintain or slightly increase margins.