Sector News

Unilever expected to pick Rotterdam over London for HQ

March 15, 2018
Food & Drink

Unilever, the maker of Dove soap and Marmite, is expected to choose Rotterdam over London for its main headquarters, according to reports.

The Anglo-Dutch consumer group currently has joint headquarters in London and Rotterdam. Since it fended off a £115bn takeover approach from the US food giant Kraft Heinz a year ago, the company has been reviewing its dual corporate structure and which of the two offices would become its main base.

According to reports, Rotterdam has beaten London and an announcement could come as soon as Thursday, in a move that will be seen as a symbolic blow for the UK’s attractiveness to international businesses in the wake of the Brexit vote. Unilever, run by its Dutch chief executive, Paul Polman, is expected to announce the decision after a board meeting on Wednesday. The company declined to comment.

For nearly a century, Unilever has been headquartered in London and Rotterdam, after the 1929 merger of the British soap maker Lever Brothers and the Dutch margarine producer Margarine Unie. Since then, the business has grown into a global consumer group that makes a host of well-known brands including Persil washing powder, Magnum ice cream and Knorr soup. Unilever employs 7,500 people in the UK and about 3,000 in the Netherlands.

Alongside complications caused by the UK severing links with Brussels, there are a number of other factors that make Rotterdam more attractive than London. The Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, who used to work for Unilever, has pushed through plans to attract more overseas companies. He scrapped a 15% tax on dividends for overseas investors in Dutch businesses and intends to lower corporation tax.

Even more importantly for Unilever, the Netherlands offers better protection against hostile corporate takeovers than the UK. The rules allow Netherlands-based firms to combat hostile takeovers with “poison pill” defences, which make a company’s shares prohibitively expensive to predators. This has reportedly been a major factor in the decision.

Though run as one company, the distinct legal entities have different shareholders, separate stock listings and annual meetings, and are subject to different laws and corporate governance requirements. Unilever has said it planned to maintain stock market listings in the Netherlands, UK and US, and continue to apply both UK and Dutch corporate governance codes.

By Julia Kollewe

Source: The Guardian

comments closed

Related News

June 24, 2022

Carlsberg announces resignation of CFO Heine Dalsgaard

Food & Drink

Carlsberg has announced the departure of its chief financial officer (CFO), Heine Dalsgaard, after six years in the position. In a statement, Carlsberg said that Dalsgaard was resigning from the post to take up the role of CFO at a private equity-backed company in a different industry.

June 24, 2022

Kellogg to split into three companies, focus on snacks

Food & Drink

Kellogg will split into three independent companies to focus on the snack business, Reuters reported Tuesday. The snacking portfolio will comprise the main business, while the North America cereal unit and the plant-based business will be spun off. The company is also considering a sale of the plant-based business.

June 24, 2022

Mondelēz to buy energy bar company Clif Bar for $2.9bn

Food & Drink

The snacks giant says the acquisition will help build on its commitment to “lead the future of snacking” in key geographies worldwide. Once the transaction is completed, Mondelēz will continue to operate the Clif Bar business from its headquarters in Emeryville, California. The snack giant will also continue to manufacture Clif Bars’ products, which include Clif Bar, Luna and Clif Kid, at its facilities in Idaho and Indiana.