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Unilever cancels plans to move HQ to Europe due to shareholder pressure

Unilever cancels plans to move HQ to Europe due to shareholder pressure

The consumer goods giant has scrapped plans to move its corporate headquarters to the Netherlands following pressure from shareholders

Unilever is also set to close its Norwich factory next year, and stated that it was withdrawing the proposal to “simplify” its dual-headed Anglo-Dutch legal structure, which would have seen its corporate base move from London to Rotterdam.

The company has been under pressure from several shareholders over the plans in the past few weeks, including Aviva Investors, Brewin Dolphin, Royal London, Columbia Threadneedle, Legal & General Investment Management, Lindsell Train and M&G Investments.

On Friday, the company issued a statement: “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.” The statement further added.

Unilever’s shares were estimated to have been continued trading on the FTSE 100, had the move gone ahead. Following the announcement, the shares were up around 1% at 4,116p.

Chairman Marijn Dekkers stated that the board continues to believe that simplifying Unilever’s structure is in the firm’s best interests.

He stated: “Unilever has built a long track record of consistent and competitive performance. The board continues to believe that simplifying our dual-headed structure would, over time, provide opportunities to further accelerate value creation and serve the best long-term interests of Unilever.

“The board will now consider its next steps and will continue to engage with our shareholders. We will proceed with the plan to cancel the NV preference shares, further strengthening our corporate governance.” He further added.

The company first announced plans to simplify the business from two legal entities into a single one, which was incorporated in Rotterdam, in March. This dealt a major blow to the UK government and it’s efforts to uphold Britain’s status as a centre for business after Brexit.

Unilever however has insisted throughout that the move to Rotterdam has “nothing to do with Brexit”.

It also said at the time that its 7,300 workers in the UK and 3,100 in the Netherlands would be unaffected by the changes.

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