Unilever has urged US food group Bestfoods to reconsider its decision to reject an $18bn takeover offer. The Anglo-Dutch group said it was disappointed Bestfoods had failed to see the "exciting opportunities" the takeover would bring, but said it would still discuss the deal. Talks between the two companies broke down this week after Bestfoods ­ which has a market capitalisation of $14.2bn ­ rejected Unilever's offer on the grounds it did not reflect its true value. Analysts say the fit between Unilever and Bestfoods is "perfect", but stress the US company is not in need of rescuing. "It is fiercely independent, and doing very well for itself," said one, adding that talks would probably continue. "This is not the end of the story" he stressed. If the deal had gone ahead, it would have been the largest in the industry for more than a decade, giving Unilever a vast injection of core brands such as Knorr and Hellman's, plus manufacturing sites in 90 countries. This is the second time Bestfoods has become embroiled in takeover talks only to walk away. October discussions with Heinz were fruitless. Unilever said: "We are disappointed with Bestfoods' response and its unwillingness to discuss any deal." The bid comes just weeks after Unilever bought Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream and Slim-Fast Foods. - Unilever is scrapping its geographic marketing operations to focus on product categories. Three new divisions will look at spreads and cooking products, culinary and beverages. {{NEWS }}

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