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Chris Hughes and Andrea Felsted

Unilever-Colgate? Unilever-Nestle?

Polman could address the industry's problem of weak profitability and growth.

Unilever was all smiles when Kraft Heinz Co. abandoned its attempt to buy the U.K. consumer company for $143 billion. In an unusual joint statement, the two companies referred to their "high regard" for each other.

This isn't how bitterly contested takeover situations normally end. The Anglo-Dutch consumer giant must have wanted to end things amicably -- or at least be seen to.