Unilever Technology

Unilever favours Rotterdam with London exit


By John Glenday, Reporter

March 15, 2018 | 3 min read

Consumer goods giant Unilever is to turn away from London as it embraces Rotterdam as its sole corporate headquarters, ending an 88-year history of dual governance where it straddled both.


Unilever favours Rotterdam with London exit

The administrative migration is being interpreted as a blow to the capital, although it will seek to remain listed on the FTSE100, and is thought to have been spurred by a failed £115bn takeover approach by Kraft.

That close shave is believed to have convinced the boards in Britain and Holland that their independence would be better preserved by uniting at a single Rotterdam HQ where laws protecting against unwanted suitors are more robust.

To soften the blow to Britain Unilever has chosen London as the headquarters for two of three new divisions created as part of the reorganisation – Beauty and Personal Care & Home – guaranteeing £1bn of annual spending on research and development.

Unilever chairman Marijn Dekkers explained: "The board believes the move to three divisions and the simplification of our corporate structure will create a simpler, more agile and more focused company with increased strategic flexibility for value-creating portfolio change.

"The changes announced today also further strengthen Unilever's corporate governance, creating for the first time in our history a 'one share, one vote' principle for all our shareholders."

In a coordinated response both Unilever and the British government have gone out of their way to claim that the move was not related to Brexit but the symbolism of the announcement speaks volumes about the uncertain nature of the UK’s future trading position at this time.

In recent weeks Unilever has pledged to sever ties with 'platforms that create division' as it seeks to exert its influence to become more transparent.

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