Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Unilever drops plan to leave London for single HQs in Rotterdam

Unilever decided to collapse its Anglo Dutch structure following a deep business review sparked by last year’s failed $143 billion takeover approach by Kraft-Heinz Unilever abandons plans to move headquarters after investor pressure
Jean Garcia | 08 October, 2018, 05:09

But the shock announcement by Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever earlier Friday that it was withdrawing plans to move its main headquarters from London to Rotterdam has prompted a rethink.

The FTSE 100-consumer goods giant said in a statement that the proposal to relocate to the Netherlands and list exclusively on the Amsterdam stock exchange had "not received support from a significant group of shareholders" after it outlined the plans in September.

Unilever said it engaged with over 200 shareholders about its proposal, and said it had broad support from majority, who agreed that a single structure, with a single pool of equity, would be simpler and more efficient.

The initial decision to leave London had attracted headlines in Britain, where there are concerns that the country might become less attractive to businesses because it is leaving the European Union and its seamless single market.

The company's board on Friday said it still believes that simplifying its dual-headed structure is the best choice for the long term.

"For some of the British shareholders, the political debate that erupted in the Netherlands over the government's plan to scrap the dividend tax was a factor in them not supporting the proposal by the board" to move Unilever's HQ, Polman told NOS public television.

In a statement, Unilever said: "In developing the proposal, the board was guided by the opportunity to unlock value for our shareholders by creating a stronger, simpler and more competitive Unilever that is better positioned for long-term success".

It is also a victory for United Kingdom shareholders, big and small, who had spoken out against the move, which would have kicked the company out of the benchmark FTSE 100 index.

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For almost a century since, Unilever has maintained a dual-headed structure and listings on the London, Amsterdam and NY stock exchanges.

'The board will now consider its next steps and will continue to engage with our shareholders.

The group was founded in 1930 after the Dutch company Margarine Unie merged with the manufacturer of know british lever Brothers.

Rutte had constantly defended the controversial decision to drop the tax, saying it is crucial to keep several multinationals in the Netherlands and to make the Netherlands a more attractive place to do business.

When the plan was announced it landed a major blow to the United Kingdom government's effort to promote Britain as a centre for business post-Brexit.

"This change should not really affect the group's near-term operation, although it may lead to a faster pace for CEO succession planning", he said.

Rutte faces opposition to a plan to scrap a dividend tax in a bid to attract worldwide firms and cash in on Britain's departure from the EU.

The multinational corporation known for products Dove, the famous Pot british or ice cream Ben & Jerry's, has for almost a decade and a legal presence both in the Uk and the netherlands.

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