Britain's third biggest company Unilever will scrap its London corporate headquarters and make Rotterdam its sole legal home in a blow to Prime Minister Theresa May's government nearly one year to the day before Brexit. The terms of Britain's exit from the bloc are still unclear, but many firms are planning for a possible move of their European Union operations into the bloc.
Unilever made a decision to consolidate its headquarters after staving off an unsolicited takeover bid from Kraft Heinz Co. previous year.
Softening the blow to the U.K., Unilever plans to base its beauty and personal-care division and the home-care business in London.
Unilever said the simplified structure will give it more flexibility to make portfolio changes and help long-term performance.
In an update to shareholders, Unilever confirmed it would be evolving its corporate structure.
The consumer goods giant has until now been a dual-headquartered business, but the corporate shake-up reflects the fact that the Dutch business represents 55 per cent of the group's overall share capital, it said in a statement.More news: PSG concerned over Neymar future
The consumer company behind brands such as Helmann's, Knorr, Dove and Lyons Tea is to move its headquarters from London. On Thursday, the share price closed down 1.7 percent in London and 1.0 percent in Amsterdam. Critics of Brexit have said a decision in favour of Rotterdam would indicate Britain's weakened position outside the EU. Unilever swiftly rejected the offer and Kraft walked away in a matter of days but the incident was enough to force the company to pledge to improve its operations. The company has annual United Kingdom sales worth around £1.8bn.
He advised Unilever in its successful 2017 effort to fend off a $143B takeover bid by Kraft Heinz.
Meanwhile, the Dutch government welcomed the announcement, with economic affairs minister Eric Wiebes saying it underscored that The Netherlands is an attractive location for big business.
"Unilever is a fantastic company to have here", Wiebes told NOS Radio. If you look at other countries - the French, the Germans, and in this case the Dutch - they take an approach that is much more focused on the long-term consequences of these deals. The Foods & Refreshment division will be based in Rotterdam.
The consumer goods company said late a year ago that its board "considers that unification with a single share class would be in the best interests of Unilever and its shareholders as a whole, providing greater ongoing strategic flexibility for value-creating portfolio change".
Unilever has had a headquarters in both Britain and the Netherlands ever since Lever Brothers merged with Margarine Unie in 1929.