Unilever (almost) ready for UK move

Unilever office in Rotterdam
Photo: BYonkruud / Shutterstock.com

Following the Dutch vote, British shareholders now also voted in favour of moving Unilever to London. The only thing that can stop the departure now is a fine that Dutch politicians want to impose.


By the end of November

The path has been paved for Unilever's complete move to London: at the end of November the brand manufacturer wants to exchange its dual British-Dutch structure for an integral British identity. British shareholders have given their blessing for this, with an overwhelming majority of more than 99% voting 'yes'. At the end of September, the Dutch shareholders agreed almost unanimously.

Unilever already has a clear picture of how things should proceed: on 23 October and 2 November, the producer of Dove and Ben & Jerry's, among others, will have to appear before the British Supreme Court, then the Dutch share will be delisted from the stock exchange on 27 November and unification should be completed on 29 November.


Departure penalty is imminent

But Dutch opposition party GroenLinks is threatening to impose a penalty payment of up to 11 billion euros. The tax would mean that shareholders would have to cough up a dividend tax, which Unilever itself would have to pay out to the government over several years.

It is true that, at the moment, this is only a legislative proposal that has yet to be debated and voted on. Nonetheless, Unilever has already said that if the departure penalty is imposed, the relocation plans may be reversed.

By means of a structural unification, the FMCG producer wants to be able to be quicker and more decisive when it comes to takeovers. The plan came about when Kraft Heinz wanted to buy Unilever in 2017, but failed.