Unilever (LON:ULVR) has opened talks with the trust established by one of the group’s founders as part of its efforts to win shareholder support for its decision to pick the Netherlands over the UK for single corporate base, Sky News has reported. The news comes ahead of the Anglo-Dutch group’s second-quarter update this Thursday.
Unilever’s share price has slipped marginally lower in today’s session, having given up 0.17 percent to 4,191.00p as of 09:38 BST. The decline is largely in line with losses in the broader London market, with the benchmark FTSE 100 index currently standing 0.13 percent lower at 7,652.14 points.
Unilever in talks with Leverhulme Trust
Sky News reported yesterday that Unilever and the Leverhulme Trust were discussing the unification of the company's legal structure into a single entity based in the Netherlands. The Trust, set up in 1925 in the will of the group’s founder Lord Leverhulme, is the group’s second-biggest investor and its views on the move will carry huge weight both inside and outside the company.
The Leverhulme Trust has reportedly not yet decided which way it will vote its 5.6-percent stake in Unilever, but any suggestion that it is wavering or contemplating opposing the proposed relocation would be hugely problematic. Two sources meanwhile indicated to the newswire that the company was confident of securing the Trust’s backing.
Investors alarmed over Dutch move
The news comes amid growing investor concern over Unilever’s plans to scrap its UK headquarters, as the company recently said that it was ‘extremely unlikely’ that it will retain a position in the blue-chip FTSE 100 index after it abandons its corporate base in London.
The Times noted that Dutch investors own about 55 per cent of Unilever group, while the restructuring plans will require the approval of 75 percent of UK shareholders and 50 percent of the Dutch.