Unilever axes move from London to Rotterdam

Unilever axes move from London to Rotterdam

Unilever headquarters in Rotterdam, Netherlands August 21, 2018. (REUTERS File Photo)

Anglo-Dutch consumer giant Unilever on Friday axed its post-Brexit plan to move its main headquarters from London to Rotterdam amid shareholder unease.

The group, which makes famous brands like yeast extract Marmite, PG Tips tea, Persil washing powder and Magnum ice cream, said it was withdrawing a proposal that would have seen its corporate base move to the Netherlands.

"The Unilever board has today decided to withdraw its proposal to simplify Unilever's dual-headed legal structure," the company said in a statement.

The group had originally unveiled the planned switch in March in a symbolic decision that was largely interpreted by analysts as a blow to post-Brexit Britain.

A Unilever spokeswoman confirmed it would no longer seek to relocate away from the British capital.

"In developing the proposal, the board was guided by the opportunity to unlock value for our shareholders by creating a stronger, simpler and more competitive Unilever that is better positioned for long-term success," the statement added.

"We have had an extensive period of engagement with shareholders and have received widespread support for the principle behind simplification.

"However, we recognise that the proposal has not received support from a significant group of shareholders and therefore consider it appropriate to withdraw."

Unilever had in recent weeks faced mounting opposition from key shareholders, including Royal London, Columbia Threadneedle, Legal & General Investment Management, Aviva Investors, Lindsell Train, M&G Investments and Brewin Dolphin.

However, chairman Marijn Dekkers insisted on Friday that the board continued to believe simplifying Unilever's structure remains in the firm's best interests.

"Unilever has built a long track record of consistent and competitive performance," Dekkers said.

"The board continues to believe that simplifying our dual-headed structure would, over time, provide opportunities to further accelerate value creation and serve the best long-term interests of Unilever.

"The board will now consider its next steps and will continue to engage with our shareholders."