Unilever move riles investors | City & Business | Finance



The group behind brands such as Marmite, Persil, Dove and Lipton has chosen Rotterdam over London for its main headquarters as part of a restructuring.

Its shares will continue to be listed in London as well as Amsterdam and New York, but it will lose its FTSE 100 status.

Unilever’s bid to become “a simpler, more agile and more focused business” needs approval from both its UK and Dutch investors, but top 10 British shareholder Aviva Investors, which owns 1.4 per cent, predicted the company could struggle to reach the required 75 per cent support here.

Aviva’s chief investment officer for equities David Cumming said: “We will be voting against Unilever’s proposal to relinquish its UK domicile in favour of Rotterdam.

“Unilever’s decision appears to be a defensive response to recent governance challenges and consequently will not create any value for shareholders.

“Furthermore, a material number of long-standing supportive UK shareholders will become forced sellers due to the resultant removal of this highquality company from the FT All Share and FTSE 100 indices.”

Another leading UK investor, Lindsell Train, has also indicated it could vote against the proposal.

Unilever said: “Simplifying under a single holding company will allow us to compete more effectively, give us greater flexibility for strategic portfolio change, and will further strengthen our corporate governance, creating true shareholder democracy with a “one share, one vote” principle.

“We have engaged extensively with our shareholders and we believe the vast majority are fully supportive.”

Shares fell 9p to 4253½p.


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