LONDON: Inexplicable movements in Unilever's share price, driven by the Wall Street and London EC2 rumor mills, have triggered mounting speculation that the global consumer goods giant is the subject of a takeover bid by Colgate-Palmolive.

Unilever, on a continuing upward curve since its management makeover in 2004, has received a further boost from the upturn in Europe's larger economies, notably Germany, over the past year.

Although neither company is (predictably) prepared to comment on the rumors, they continue to gain credence with Unilever's shares closing 2% up in London yesterday after hitting 4% earlier in the day.

Should a bid materialize, it would be analogous to the swallowing of a whale by a herring. The Anglo-Dutch company has a market value of around €75 billion ($103.2bn; £50.78bn), approximately three times that of New York-headquartered Colgate.

However, some observers believe the whale to be the more likely aggressor.

"I would expect it to be the other way round because of the market value of the two companies," opines Ton van Ooijen, an analyst at Kepler Landsbanki in Amsterdam. "Unilever wants to expand its personal care operations, and Colgate has those activities."

Data sourced from multiple origins; additional content by WARC staff