Unilever chooses The Netherlands over UK for global HQ
Unilever announces steps to make it a more agile and focused business entity.
March 15, 2018
by Canadian Packaging staff
LONDON/ROTTERDAM—Unilever has announced the next steps in its transformation into a more simple, more agile and more focused business, which will further drive long-term performance and shareholder value, and build upon its Connected 4 Growth program.
Unilever, the U.K.’s third-biggest company, will scrap its London, U.K. corporate headquarters and make Rotterdam in The Netherlands its sole legal home, a move that is also seen as a blow to Prime Minister Theresa May’s government ahead of Brexit from the EU.
Unilever is evolving its structure to be based on three Divisions:
- these Divisions – Beauty & Personal Care, Home Care, and Foods & Refreshment – will be more empowered, with greater responsibility for making long-term strategic choices and managing financial performance;
- all three divisions will continue to benefit from Unilever’s global scale and route to market;
- the headquarters of the Beauty & Personal Care Division and the Home Care Division will be located in London;
- this secures nearly £1 billion per year of continued spend in the UK, including a significant commitment to R&D;
- the headquarters of the Foods & Refreshment Division will continue to be based in Rotterdam.
Secondly, it is proposing to simplify its corporate structure:
- Unilever intends to simplify from two legal entities, N.V. and PLC, into a single legal entity incorporated in the Netherlands. This reflects the fact that the shares in N.V. account for approximately 55% of the group’s combined ordinary share capital , and trade with greater liquidity than PLC shares;
- Unilever will continue to be listed in London, Amsterdam and New York.
The proposed simplification will provide greater flexibility for strategic portfolio change and help drive long-term performance.
The changes also further strengthen Unilever’s corporate governance, creating, for the first time, a ‘one share, one vote’ principle for all shareholders. Upon completion, the N.V. preference shares will be cancelled, and it is intended to close the N.V. Trust Office and terminate the related depositary receipt structure. Unilever will also continue to apply both the UK and Dutch corporate governance codes.
Unilever’s employment of 7,300 people in the U.K. and 3,100 people in the Netherlands will be unaffected by the changes.
Unilever chairman Marijn Dekkers says: “Unilever’s Board is fully committed to delivering long-term performance and sustainable value for shareholders. 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. Our decision to headquarter the Divisions in the UK and the Netherlands underscores our long-term commitment to both countries. 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.”
Company information available at www.unilever.com.
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