Facing Backlash, Unilever Nixes Netherlands Move


Unilever PLC has nixed its plans to move the company’s headquarters from London to the Netherlands, reports MarketWatch.

The decision comes after “mounting opposition from some of its largest investors;” according to the publication, a number of big institutional investors said they would oppose the plan at a shareholder meeting in late October 2018. Unilever would have lost its place in the U.K.’s FTSE 100 index, which would force some investors to sell.

Related: Unilever Offers Details on Dutch Move

Major investors including Aviva, M&G, Legal & General, Schroders, Lindsell Train, Columbia Threadneedle and Royal London Asset Management all said they planned to vote “no.” Together, they own around 10% of the company.

Some private shareholders had also voiced anger at the move. Due to a rule requiring a “yes” vote from more than 50% of those voting—no matter how big their stake—a single owner or just one share is as crucial as a major investor.

In a statement on the withdrawal, the company said it still thinks simplifying its structure was in its best long-term interests. It will now consider next steps.

The consolidation was the “swan song” of departing chief executive Paul Polman; some analysts predict that the move will accelerate leadership changes at Unilever, which is already on the hunt for Polman’s successor.

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