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Unilever headquarters in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Image: REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw
Unilever headquarters in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Image: REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

Unilever Prepares for Shareholder Vote Ahead of Headquarter Move

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Unilever headquarters in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Image: REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

Unilever is setting up a vital shareholder vote on October 25 and 26 regarding its headquarters.

The consumer goods giant is seeking to move its HQ out of the U.K. and into the Netherlands.

Removing its Dual Stock Market Listing

Unilever is getting ready for a vote it will hold in October, according to a recently published company prospectus. This vote will help it to determine whether it can simplify its structure. The simplified structure will eliminate the company’s dual stock market listing in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Instead, it would bring its headquarters exclusively to the Netherlands.

The shareholder vote will decide whether or not the company can make this move. The proposal will be made for the vote on October 25 and 26. If it passes, the company’s shares will start trading on December 24.

89 Years of Tradition

Unilever has a long history. Eighty-nine years ago, a British soap making business merged with a Dutch margarine. In March, the company proposed a move to simplify its corporate structure. That said, the timing of this decision cannot be ignored. The company is choosing to move the British part of its headquarters exclusively to the Netherlands just before the U.K. leaves the E.U.

The proposal of the company’s withdrawal from the U.K. months before Brexit has displeased many U.K. shareholders. Those shareholders have stated that they would be required to sell their shares as it would be unlikely that the new Unilever shares would be included in the FTSE index.

If it Gets the Green Light

If shareholders vote in favour of the move out of the U.K. it will become a single company within the Netherlands. It will be listing its shares in Amsterdam as well as London and New York.

At the moment, Unilever is the FTSE 100’s third largest company, with a £124 billion market capitalization. Only Royal Dutch Shell and HSBC are bigger. Unilever has yet to say whether or not its new shares will continue to be included in the FTSE. That said, within its prospectus, Unilever underscored its belief that it would be “extremely unlikely” that it would be permitted to remain.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Alvexo on the matter.