Unilever One Step Closer to Headquarters’ Unification

PARIS — Unilever’s shareholders in the Netherlands voted almost unanimously online in favor of one group headquarters, based in London, during an extraordinary general meeting on Monday.

The beauty-to-food giant in June said it aims to simplify its legal structure under a single parent company, Unilever plc, as it gears up for more M&A deals.

The company has historically had a dual-headed legal structure, based in London and in Rotterdam.

In June, the group also said the move would create “a simpler company with greater strategic flexibility that is better positioned for future success.”

Unilever, which owns brands ranging from Dove and Ponds to Ben & Jerry’s and Hellmann’s, and has a growing premium beauty portfolio, said then that the simplification will lead to “strategic flexibility for portfolio evolution,” including through equity-based acquisitions or demergers. “Such flexibility is even more important as we anticipate the increasingly dynamic business environment that the COVID-19 pandemic will create,” the company added.

The move would also further strengthen Unilever’s corporate governance and the group would maintain its multiple listings on the Amsterdam, London and New York stock exchanges, it said.

On Monday, 99.4 percent of Unilever’s shareholders in the Netherlands voted for the headquarters’ unification.

Company shareholders in the U.K. and the High Courts of Justice in England and Wales must also be in favor of the headquarters’ merger before it can take place.

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