British-Dutch Unilever has purchased the last stock options still held by William Hesketh Lever's offspring, the man whose soap factory later formed Unilever. The company also decided to sell Bertolli and Ragu to a Japanese firm.
A move worth 875 million euro
Unilever paid some 875 million euro for the rights to nearly 71 million shares, which is good news for shareholders as the reduced number of available shares increases the annual profit per share.
Viscount William Hesketh Lever started making soap in 1886 with his brother to "improve people's hygiene". Its Sunlight soap became a worldwide success and propelled the Lever Brothers into well-known figures. The company became active in the food industry in 1917 when it purchased several ice and canned goods factories.
It fused with Dutch Margarine Unie in 1929 and that is when Unilever came to be, a company that became one of the world's largest companies concerning food, personal hygiene, cleaning supplies. It has two separate main offices, one in Rotterdam and one in London.
In an unrelated move, Unilever has decided to sell the Northern American activities of its pasta sauce brands Ragu and Bertolli to the Japanese company Mizkan. The European and Latin American branches will however remain under Unilever's wings.