Unilever will decide in March whether to consolidate its headquarters in Rotterdam amid pressure from Brexit, the Financieele Dagblad reported on Thursday, citing a report in London’s Financial Times.
The Financial Times quoted a Unilever spokesman as saying the decision on the headquarters will not be made until the end of March when first-quarter earnings are published.
The FT said ‘Theresa May is bracing for Unilever to choose the Netherlands over the UK’ and said UK officials have held talks with Unilever about the move.
If Unilever choses Rotterdam for its headquarters, it will likely opt as well for a fully Dutch legal structure which will ease the company when it makes future takeovers, the FD said.
Since it was founded in 1930, the Anglo-Dutch soups-to-soaps giant has maintained two separate headquarters – in London and in Rotterdam – as well as dual bourse listings and dual fiscal entities. But Unilever has always operated as a single business with a single board of directors.
Brexit looms large in the thinking of many companies these days and few more so than Unilever. The Dutch government eased Unilever’s thinking when it said it would scrap the tax on dividends, following the lead of Britain which is making practically every move possible to retain its crown jewels.
Unilever’s thinking was further tightened last year when US foods collossus Kraft Heinz made a hostile bid for Unilever which was rebuffed. Unilever’s dual corporate structure made it more vulnerable.
A single Rotterdam headquarters for Unilever would have about 1,300 employees. In addition a Rotterdam headquarters for a company like Unilever would give the port city extra corporate prestige at a time when Amsterdam is getting all the plums, the FD said.
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