Unilever, Britain’s third biggest company, has abandoned plans to move headquarters to Rotterdam over shareholder revolt
Unilever, Britain’s third biggest company, has abandoned plans to move its headquarters out of the UK amid mounting opposition from investors.
The Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant said it was scrapping proposals to consolidate its corporate structure in the Netherlands.
The announcement on Friday followed weeks of pressure from major shareholder in the company, which owns household brands including Marmite, Dove and Ben & Jerry’s.
In a statement, Unilever said: “We have had an extensive period of engagement with shareholders and have received widespread support for the principle behind simplification. However, we recognise that the proposal has not received support from a significant group of shareholders and therefore consider it appropriate to withdraw.”
However, chairman Marijn Dekkers added Unilever’s board continued to believe that simplifying the company’s structure was in its best interests.
Dekkers said Unilever has built a long track record of consistent and competitive performance. The board continues to believe that simplifying their dual-headed structure would, over time, provide opportunities to further accelerate value creation and serve the best long-term interests of Unilever.
He added the board will now consider its next steps and will continue to engage with its shareholders. It will proceed with the plan to cancel the NV preference shares, further strengthening their corporate governance.
Unilever first announced in March that it intended to simplify the business from two legal entities into one, based at its Dutch headquarters in Rotterdam.
It dealt a major blow to the UK government’s hopes of maintaining Britain’s status as a major centre for business after leaving the EU.
However, Unilever has always insisted the move to Rotterdam was “nothing to do with Brexit“.
It had also assured its 7,300 workers in the UK and 3,100 in the Netherlands they would be unaffected by the changes.
But the company had faced possible defeat in a shareholder vote on the move later this month.