US food giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) is readying to make a move for part of Unilever's £6bn spreads division, whose brands include Stork and Flora, according to the Sunday Times.
The New York-listed company, which has a market value of almost $24bn (£18bn), has its eye on the food processing operations of the business and could team up with one of the many private equity firms circling Unilever, the Sunday Times reported.
Unilever put the division up for sale over the summer, as part of a restructuring plan prompted by a failed £115bn hostile takeover by Kraft Heinz earlier this year.
The hefty sell-off has caught the attention of some of the world's largest buyout houses. Clayton Dubilier & Rice, whose partner Vindi Banga spent more than 30 years at the conglomerate, is said to be working with Bain Capital.
Meanwhile Blackstone and CVC Capital Partners have also requested approval from Unilever to make a joint bid, according to reports, with the help of former Marks & Spencer boss Marc Bolland and ex-Unilever chief operating officer Harish Manwani.
PAI Partners, Apollo Management, Carlyle and KKR are also said to be examining a rival bid.
Last month, Unilever kicked off the sale of the spreads division by exchanging the southern Africa branch of the business for a stake in itself with investment company Remgro.
The deal valued the southern African branch of the business at 7bn rand (£385m).