Unilever to become a single London-based group after 99% of investors vote to ditch Netherlands base
Unilever shareholders have almost unanimously backed plans to unite the business into a single London-based group.
The move will be the end of an era for the consumer goods business, which has been split between the United Kingdom and the Netherlands for 90 years.
More than 99pc of shares voted in favour of the tie-up, which Unilever wants to complete by the end of November, it said yesterday.
London-listing: Unilever owns everyday products from Dove soap to Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream
The HQ will now be entirely in the UK, ditching the Netherlands domicile, and the Dutch entity will be merged into the UK entity.
Unilever will keep a secondary listing in Amsterdam.
The group owns everyday products from Dove soap to Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
It has argued the dual structure is making it harder to buy new companies and sell old ones quickly – for example, the proposed sale of its tea business, which owns Lipton and PG Tips.
Unilever is eager to dispose of less lucrative arms so that it can move into fast-growing areas, such as high-end beauty brands.
These have proliferated in the Instagram and social media era.
The FTSE 100 group needs to get the unification cleared at High Court hearings on October 23 and November 2.
The business has been threatened with a £10billion ‘exit tax’ for ditching its Netherlands base, but it is not clear if this will happen.
The hybrid structure dates back to the merger of British soap maker Lever Brothers and Margarine Unie in the Netherlands in 1930. Shell is another company split between both countries.
Dutch investors in Unilever backed the move with 99.4 per cent of votes cast in a ballot last month.
Unilever profits increased by 4 per cent to £4.1billion in the first half of 2020.
Locked-down Britons turned to its goods while holed up at home.
Unilever shares rose 0.1 per cent, or 4p, to 4851p last night.
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