Unilever's board is apparently in turmoil, split over how to go forward. The British shareholders would like to focus on shareholders' value, while the Dutch prefer a sustainable, steady course for the future.
Fallout from Kraft Heinz' take-over bid
Under CEO Paul Polman's guidance, Unilever is currently on a sustainable course, hoping to reap the rewards in the long run. By 2020, the company should have become entirely energy-neutral, although he has expressed a willingness to alter the company's stance, especially since several shareholders feel those investments will have a negative impact on the short-term profits.
Ever since Kraft Heinz' take-over bid was resolutely rejected, the shareholders have been discussing how to continue and a profitability increase is one such topic. If the company manages to become more profitable, its value would increase and it would become harder for others to launch an acquisition bid. In a statement, Unilever revealed Kraft Heinz' bid was a "trigger" to discuss higher short-term profits.
Another topic is whether Unilever should split in several divisions, which could also create additional shareholder value. Separate entities are worth more than when they are all grouped in a single company. German Metro Group already did something similar, when it split off its consumer electronics division into a separate company called CECONOMY.
The media is also reporting on a struggle between CEO Paul Polman and CFO Graeme Pitkethly, who is on the (British) shareholders' side and wants Unilever to chase increased profits quickly.