British gov't: Brexit not reason for Unilever move to Rotterdam

British gov’t: Brexit not reason for Unilever move to Rotterdam

The British government said on Thursday Unilever had decided to locate its new single headquarters operation to Rotterdam because of long-term strategic restructuring not because of Brexit. The Anglo-Dutch healthcare-to-foods concern confirmed the long-awaited decision to move to Rotterdam in a statement on Thursday. The British government downplayed the shift in a short statement on Twitter. 'As the company has made clear, the decision to move a small group of people to a corporate HQ in the Netherlands ... is not connected to the EU's departure from the EU,' the statement said. And Unilever chief financial officer, Graeme Pitkethly, told the Guardian Brexit 'was absolutely not a factor' in the decision, which was announced after a board meeting and a year-long review. The government’s response to today’s announcement from @Unilever on their long-term commitment to the UK. — Dept for BEIS (@beisgovuk) March 15, 2018 Unilever has maintained separate headquarters in Rotterdam and London since it was founded in 1930 but has always operated as a single business with a single board of directors. The British government had been lobbying hard to keep Unilever in London as 'proof' to others that Britain remained a good place for corporate investment. But after a failed takeover attempt by  US rival Kraft Heinz last year, Unilever took a closer look at the Rotterdam option because Dutch corporate laws allow companies to adopt ‘poison pill’ anti-takeover defences. Margarine Unilever has been trimming its sails since the Kraft Heinz bid, selling its spreads and margarine division to investment group KKR in December. At the same time it was decided that the dual headquarters structure was too expensive. Unilever will maintain a large presence in Britain, with 7,300 of its 170,000 employees located there, against just over 3,000 in the Netherlands. R&D units are located in both countries. And the vital Beauty & Personal Care and Home Care divisions will continue to be operated from London, Unilever said. Unilever will continue to be listed on the London, Amsterdam and New York stock exchanges.  More >

Dutch MEPs welcome Selmayr investigation

Dutch MEPs welcome probe into controversial civil servant appointment Dutch MEPs have welcomed the decision to hold an inquiry into the way controversial civil servant Martin Selmayr was appointed to the top job in Brussels without debate or alternative candidates. Sophie in 't Veld, who had called earlier for an investigation, said the speech by European commissioner Günther Oettinger defending the appointment was 'plain stupid'. Oettinger told the European parliament during the debate that the appointment - which included two promotions within the space of nine minutes - took place within the rules. 'At that point you heard a wave of disbelief move through the room,' In 't Veld said. 'The commission just has not heard the political signals.' 'This is nepotism of the highest order,' ChristenUnie MEP Peter van Daalen said after the debate. The investigation, which had the unanimous backing of parliament, will also include claims that Selmayr's appointment was linked to improved perks for former commissioners and forged minutes - both claims Oettinger denied. Speech by @GOettingerEU on #Selmayrgate of the kind that usually elicits the advice “when in a hole, the first thing to do is: stop digging”. Praising the Emperor’s new clothes at this stage is plain stupid — Sophie in 't Veld (@SophieintVeld) March 12, 2018   More >

EMA move to Amsterdam approved

British gov’t: Brexit not reason for Unilever move to Rotterdam The  European parliament's health committee on Monday voted in favour of the decision to relocate the European Medicines Agency from London to Amsterdam, despite the objections of some MEPs. The vote means work can start on the construction of the head office of the prestigious EU agency in Amsterdam's Zuidas business district. One provision to head off concerns about the tight timetable for building the new office is that the Dutch government has to report on progress with the construction work every three months. Italian MEPs wanted to block the EMA’s move from London to Amsterdam, arguing that the Dutch government had withheld crucial information about the new head office. The EMA will have to move twice because the actual new premises in Amsterdam’s Zuidas will only be ready in November 2019. The  full European parliament will vote on the legislation on Thursday. ‘That will be a formality,’ Dutch MEP Bas Eijkhout, who is a member of the health committee, told the Financieele Dagblad.  More >

Europarliament ends Italian EMA opposition

British gov’t: Brexit not reason for Unilever move to Rotterdam Italian opposition to the move of the headquarters of the European Medicines Agency  to Amsterdam appears to have been ended by the European parliament, the Financieele Dagblad said on Monday. The parliament is expected to place a requirement on the Netherlands to submit a progress report on the construction of EMA's new headquarters every three months, the FD said, thus ending Italian calls for a move to Milan instead. The compromise proposal admits, however, that the delays in the construction of the new headquarters are 'alarming' while acknowledging Amsterdam was the choice of the EMA staff. Giovanni La Via, the Italian MEP responsible for the EMA dossier, is expected to report about the recent inspection visit to Amsterdam to the parliament in Strasbourg on Monday. The compromise proposal will then be incorporated into a vote which is scheduled for Thursday. The EMA is being forced to move out of London because of Brexit. Amsterdam was one of the candidates for the new headquarters and won out over Milan after lots were drawn in the final round. The Italian delegation objected to the fact that the EMA would have to move operations twice because the new Amsterdam headquarters would not be ready in time. The EMA must move out of London in March next year into temporary accommodation in Amsterdam until the new €255m EMA headquarters is completed in mid November. The Dutch government is picking up that bill.  More >

Dutch MEPs lead Selmayr job protests

British gov’t: Brexit not reason for Unilever move to Rotterdam Dutch MEPs will on Monday join the onslaught on the appointment of Martin Selmayr as a top European official without any consultation, The Times reported at the weekend. The paper said D66 MEP Sophie in 't Veld will call on the European Commission to reverse its decision to appoint the controversial Selmayr to the top job and has also asked the EU ombudsman to investigate. The decision of the 28 commissioners to approve the appointment without discussion or other applications is 'stupid and immoral', she said. 'These people are supposed to be the very best. They run the most powerful institution on the continent and yet they behave like sheep when something like this is put before them,' the Times quoted her as saying. 'If you are so out of touch that you think you can get away with it... what planet are you living on?' Broadcastere NOS said last week almost all Dutch MEPs think Selmayr should withdraw because he has not been named in line with EU rules. 'If this happened in Burkino Faso, that country would no longer receive any support and we would say this is not how you should govern a country,' Hans van Baalen, a VVD MEP, told broadcaster NOS. Selmayr, who is controversial for his domineering style, was promoted to secretary general of the commission at lightning speed, and decision announced by Jean-Claude Juncker at a press conference earlier this month. French newspaper Liberation then said the appointment was tied to improved perks for commissioners after they leave office. Last week, Dutch MPs also asked prime minister Mark Rutte about the case, but did not get majority support in parliament to press for a debate. #Selmayrgate raises grave doubts about integrity, transparency and judgement of the European Commission. Debate tomorrow in @Europarl_EN — Sophie in 't Veld (@SophieintVeld) March 11, 2018   More >