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Unilever Backs Down On HQ Move To Netherlands After Investor Revolt

Unilever scraps plans to move its headquarters to the Netherlands in the face of a British shareholder revolt, keeping one of the country's most valuable companies in London ahead of Brexit.

There and Back Again

Unilever has scrapped its plans to move its headquarters to the Netherlands, after a British shareholder revolt.
Shareholders had multiple concerns, including uncertainty over Dutch dividend tax, and the belief that the move was partly aimed at securing better takeover protection under Dutch laws.

Disenfranchised Opposition

“UK shareholders first of all didn't want to be disenfranchised. There was a possibility of that. There was also rather bizarrely the possibility that Unilever would have been pushed out of the FTSE 100, if they had been domiciled to back to Holland,” said Darren Sinden, analyst, Pepperstone Market

Shareholders representing about 12% of the shares had publicly opposed the move.

Unilever, which makes Dove soap and Ben & Jerry's ice cream, wanted to collapse the Anglo-Dutch structure after a failed $143 billion take over approach by Kraft-Heinz last year.

“Shareholders in the UK were concerned that if the company was redone or sold into Holland then they could they could enact certain Poison Pill actions in the face of a hostile takeover which might disenfranchise UK shareholders again from getting access to any big premium,” Sinden added.

The board now says it will cancel its Dutch preference share plans, and will consider its next steps.

News by Reuters, edited by Checkout, additional reporting by Donna Ahern. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.

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