Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

Unilever building seen in central London, Britain, March 15, 2018.

Hannah Mckay/Reuters

Unilever proposed collapsing its Anglo-Dutch legal structure into a single holding company based in Britain on Thursday, nearly two years after shareholders sank an earlier plan to move its headquarters to the Netherlands.

The maker of Dove soap and Hellmann’s mayonnaise said in a statement that unification, which would unwind a dual-headed structure in place since 1930, aims to give more flexibility for mergers and acquisitions and reduce complexity.

Its latest plan is the reverse of what it proposed in 2018, a move which was ultimately dropped in the face of a disruptive UK shareholder revolt at Unilever, which has since replaced its Dutch chairman and chief executive.

Story continues below advertisement

At the time of the 2018 proposal to incorporate the combined entity in the Netherlands, Unilever was still reeling from an unexpected $143 billion take-over approach from Kraft Heinz , which was dropped after swift rejection from Unilever.

The new plan, which requires 50 per cent shareholder approval versus 75 per cent before, is the “best tactical option,” Unilever’s Danish Chairman Nils Andersen told reporters.

It resulted from an 18-month review and was accelerated in part by a decision to demerge its tea business, Unilever said, adding that this would be harder under its existing structure.

However, Unilever cautioned that the tea review was still underway, and that no deal was imminent.

The unification would be achieved through a cross-border merger, with shareholders of Dutch Unilever NV getting one share of British Unilever Plc for each share held.

“It makes sense for the company to have as flexible an operational structure as possible, and this appears to achieve it without any obvious downside,” Steve Clayton, UK fund manager of the Hargreaves Lansdown Select Fund range, which own Unilever shares, said of the proposal.

DUTCH REGRET

Shares in Unilever Plc were down 0.6 per cent at 4349 pence, erasing earlier gains, while the Dutch shares were up 1.1 per cent.

Story continues below advertisement

Unilever, which will remain listed on the Amsterdam and London stock exchanges, also said it will not change its British or Dutch operations, locations, activities or staffing.

The move was welcomed by Britain’s business minister Alok Sharma, who said it represented “a vote of confidence” in the country, which this year left the European Union.

But while Unilever promised to raise investment in the Netherlands and continue to base its Foods and Refreshment (F&R) division headquarters there, there was Dutch disappointment.

“We regret this proposal as we would rather have seen a simplification with a Dutch company at the head,” Economy Minister Eric Wiebes wrote to parliament.

Unilever’s F&R division, which represents about 40 per cent of group sales or 20 billion euros ($23 billion) annually, is behind brands such as Knorr soup and Magnum ice-cream.

Be smart with your money. Get the latest investing insights delivered right to your inbox three times a week, with the Globe Investor newsletter. Sign up today.

Report an error
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies