Unilever Chooses Single Base in Netherlands in Blow to May


Unilever is consolidating its headquarters in the Netherlands, abandoning a U.K. base it has maintained for nearly a century.

The move is a blow to U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May as she strives to maintain investment after the country leaves the European Union. It ends months of lobbying by the Dutch and British governments after the maker of Marmite spread and Dove soap said last year it would streamline its dual-headquarters structure.

“The proposed simplification will provide greater flexibility for strategic portfolio change and help drive long-term performance,” the company said in a statement Thursday.

Unilever, formed through the 1930 merger of Margarine Unie of the Netherlands and U.K. soapmaker Lever Brothers, currently hosts two annual general meetings, employs two boards composed of the same members and operates under separate takeover regulations in each of the two countries.

Softening the blow to the U.K., Unilever plans to base its beauty and personal-care division and the home-care business in London. It will continue to have stock listings in both countries, as well as the U.S. The proposals are subject to approval of the British and Dutch entities’ shareholders, with implementation expected toward the end of this year, the company said.

Kraft Heinz

Unilever decided to consolidate its headquarters after staving off an unsolicited takeover bid from Kraft Heinz Co. last year. Moving to a single base will make it easier for the company to conduct mergers and acquisitions, Chief Financial Officer Graeme Pitkethly said on a call.


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