Unilever is set to spin off 14 European food brands, including Marmite, Bovril, Pot Noodle and Peperami, into a separate company.

The new company would be managed from Rotterdam in the Netherlands and would provide specialist management focus for its “local jewels” as part of Project Chrysalis, a Unilever spokesman told The Times.

“Over the years we've focused products into clearer categories and geographies. Project Chrysalis looks at ways you can manage brands in a different way,” he added.

However, analysts predicted Unilever could be planning to sell the brands. “We believe that an eventual disposal of the brands within Chrysalis is likely,” said analysts at Citigroup. “Why else transfer a number of smaller and local brands to a separate company? We struggle to think of a reason.”