Aviva Investors, a top Unilever (LON:ULVR) shareholder, has said it will vote against the group’s plan to move its headquarters to the Netherlands, the BBC has reported. The Anglo-Dutch group has unveiled plans to simplify its dual-headed structure in an effort to unlock more value for shareholders in the wake of Kraft-Heinz’s failed bid.
Unilever’s share price has been subdued in London in today’s session, having inched 0.38 percent lower to 4,246.50p as of 14:50 BST. The stock is underperforming the broader UK market, with the benchmark FTSE 100 index currently standing 0.01 percent higher at 7,304.95 points.
Aviva Investors opposes relocation plan
Aviva Investors told the BBC today that it will vote against Unilever’s plan to relocate its headquarters to the Netherlands.
“Aside from the fact it is disappointing to see a world-class company like Unilever leave the UK, it also means longstanding UK shareholders may be forced to sell their stock,” David Cumming, chief investment officer for equities at Aviva Investors, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, adding that he did not “see logically why any UK shareholder would support their decision to go Dutch, because there is no upside only downside”.
The comments come after FTSE Russell confirmed last week that the Anglo-Dutch group will not be included in UK benchmark FTSE 100 index once it ends its dual-headed structure.
Group confident about investor approval
The BBC meanwhile also quoted a spokesman for Unilever as saying that the company was confident it would win the approval of shareholders, noting that it had “engaged extensively with our shareholders and we believe the vast majority are fully supportive of the board’s proposal”.
Investors will vote on the group’s simplification plans on October 25 and October 26 in Rotterdam and London, respectively, with approval needed from 75 percent of UK shareholders and 50 percent of Dutch shareholders.