Unilever has announced plans to unify its legal structure under a single parent company, Unilever PLC, creating a simpler company with greater strategic flexibility, that is better positioned for future success.
After a comprehensive review over the last 18 months, the board continues to believe that moving from the current dual-headed legal structure to a single parent company will bring significant benefits by:
- Increasing Unilever’s strategic flexibility for portfolio evolution, including through equity-based acquisitions or demergers. Such flexibility is even more important as we anticipate the increasingly dynamic business environment that the COVID-19 pandemic will create.
- Removing complexity and further strengthening Unilever’s corporate governance, creating for the first time an equal voting basis per share for all shareholders. Upon completion, there would be one market capitalization, one class of shares and one global pool of liquidity, whilst maintaining the group’s listings on the Amsterdam, London and New York stock exchanges.
The company remains committed to its strategy of long-term growth across all three divisions and last year began a full evaluation of its current categories and brands, with a view to accelerating the pace of portfolio change. This review has underlined how a simpler legal structure would give Unilever greater strategic flexibility to grow shareholder value, providing a catalyst for accelerated portfolio evolution and greater organizational autonomy.
It is also clear that the COVID-19 pandemic will create a business environment in which having as much flexibility and responsiveness as possible will be critically important.
The board considers unification under Unilever PLC as the best practical option to achieve this goal. This will be implemented through a cross-border merger between Unilever PLC and Unilever NV. Unilever NV shareholders will receive one new Unilever PLC share in exchange for each Unilever NV share held.
Following the move to a single parent legal structure, Unilever’s strong presence in both The Netherlands and the United Kingdom will remain unchanged. There will be no change to the operations, locations, activities or staffing levels in either the United Kingdom or The Netherlands as a result of unification.
There will be no significant changes to Unilever’s footprint in the United Kingdom as a result of unification, in either jobs or investment. The beauty and personal care, and home care divisions will continue to be headquartered in the United Kingdom, as they are currently.
“Unilever’s board believes that unifying the company’s legal structure will create greater strategic flexibility, remove complexity and further improve governance,” Unilever chairman Nils Andersen said. “We remain committed to The Netherlands and the [United Kingdom] and there will be no change to Unilever’s footprint in either country as a result of the proposed change to Unilever’s legal parent structure. We are confident that unification will help Unilever deliver its vision of driving superior long-term performance through its multiple stakeholder business model.”