Breaking News
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your experience. Save up to 40% More details

Unilever to end Anglo-Dutch era with British holding company

Stock MarketsJun 11, 2020 08:30AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Traffic and people pass by the front of the Unilever building in central London 2/2

By Siddharth Cavale and Martinne Geller

(Reuters) - Unilever (NYSE:UL) 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.

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 (O:KHC), which was dropped after swift rejection from Unilever.

The new plan, which requires 50% shareholder approval versus 75% 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 (AS:UNA) getting one share of British Unilever Plc (L:ULVR) 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 (LON:HRGV) Select Fund range, which own Unilever shares, said of the proposal.


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

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% of group sales or 20 billion euros ($23 billion) annually, is behind brands such as Knorr soup and Magnum ice-cream.

Unilever to end Anglo-Dutch era with British holding company

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind: 

  • Enrich the conversation
  • Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed.
  • Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically.
  •  Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and links within a comment will be removed
  • Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user.
  • Don’t Monopolize the Conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also believe strongly in giving everyone a chance to air their thoughts. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email