Confectionery groups Ferrero and Hershey have confirmed they are considering a possible joint takeover bid for the UK's Cadbury.
Italy's Ferrero said it was in the "preliminary stages" of looking at its options, while US firm Hershey said making a bid was only a possibility.
Birmingham-based Cadbury has declined to comment on the news.
Earlier this month, it rejected a hostile £9.8bn offer from US food giant Kraft, calling it "derisory".
Analysts agreed that it was unlikely that either Hershey or Ferrero - which makes Ferrero Rocher chocolates - could fund a takeover of Cadbury on their own.
"It doesn't appear that either Ferrero or Hershey is in the financial position of taking on Cadbury all by themselves," said Erin Swanson, an equity analyst with Morningstar.
Other commentators have speculated that Cadbury may prefer to join with Hershey and Ferrero, as both are also predominantly confectionery companies, unlike Kraft which has a much wider food offering.
Cadbury is the world's second-largest confectionery business, with full-year revenues of £5.4bn in 2008. It described Kraft's hostile offer as "derisory".
Shares in Cadbury were up 1.3% or 10.5 pence to 798.5p in early afternoon trading.