Unilever has announced that it will be scrapping its London headquarters and will make Rotterdam its legal home, dealing a sharp blow to Britain’s status as a European business hub ahead of Brexit.
The consumer goods giant, which is the UK’s third largest company, on Thursday said that it was shaking up its corporate structure. Under the changes the company will operate three divisions. Its beauty and personal care division and its home care division will be based in London, while its foods and refreshment division will be based in Rotterdam.
It said that it also intends to simplify from its current structure of being two legal entities, transforming into one legal entity that will be incorporated in the Netherlands.
It said that the decision reflects the fact that the shares that are currently listed in the Netherlands account for approximately 55 per cent of the group’s combined ordinary share capital, and also trade with greater liquidity than the ones listed in London at the moment.
However, Unilever will continue to have its shares listed in London, Amsterdam and New York following the changes. It also said that Unilever’s employment of 7,300 people in the UK and 3,100 people in the Netherlands will be unaffected by the changes.
“Unilever’s board is fully committed to delivering long-term performance and sustainable value for shareholders,” said chairman Marijn Dekkers.
“The board believes the move to three divisions and the simplification of our corporate structure will create a simpler, more agile and more focused company with increased strategic flexibility for value-creating portfolio change,” he added.
Unilever last year already announced that it was reviewing its dual-headed corporate structure in the aftermath of its fending off an attempted $143bn takeover from Kraft Heinz.