Unilever asks state investment funds to buy shares

Anglo-Dutch foods and personal care products group Unilever is calling on state investment funds to buy its shares in what is being seen as a defence against hostile takeovers, according to the Telegraaf.

Unilever chairman Paul Polman said the funds are an ‘appropriate partner for Unilever because they take a long-term view. They are already among our biggest group of shareholders. But we think they should continue to look at our business model and increase their stakes,’ ¬†Polman told the paper on the fringes of a conference in Spain.

The Norwegian state investment fund currently holds a 1.8% stake in Unilever, while a Japanese pension fund has another 1% shareholding. The Singapore state fund Temasek also holds Unilever shares although it is uncertain how many.

Unilever fended off a takeover attempt by US foods group Kraft Heinz earlier this year, partly because its short-term thinking did not fit in with that of Unilever. The Anglo-Dutch group scores high in all lists of the most sustainable brands and believes this is the way to maximise profit

Ever since Kraft Heinz came on the scene, Polman has been working to increase profitability. Its spreads division is up for sale. And the company is striving for better profit margins and has launched a share buy-back programme, the Telegraaf said.

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