A fourth UK shareholder in Unilever (LON:ULVR) has said that it will vote against the consumer group’s plan to scrap its London headquarters, The Times has reported. The news marks a blow for the blue-chip group whose simplification plans are contingent on shareholder support.
Unilever’s share price has fallen deep into the red in today’s session, having given up 2.12 percent to 4,147.50p as of 14:38 BST. The stock is underperforming the broader UK market, with the benchmark FTSE 100 index having climbed into positive territory and currently standing 0.53 percent higher at 7,338.61 points.
M&G Investments opposes Dutch move
The Times reported today that M&G Investments, which according to Reuters data is Unilever’s 13th largest investor with more than a one-percent holding, had come out against the group’s plan to abandon its Anglo-Dutch dual governance structure.
“We do not support Unilever’s proposal to redomicile to the Netherlands as the company has not adequately persuaded UK shareholders and we therefore intend to vote against it in the interests of our investors,” Rupert Krefting, head of corporate finance and stewardship at M&G Investments, said, as quoted by the newspaper, adding that the downside for UK funds included “being forced sellers and taxation uncertainty surrounding future dividend payments to shareholders”.
Shareholder revolt grows
M&S Investments’ comments come after Aviva Investors, another major Unilever shareholder, had said that it will vote against the group’s plan to move its headquarters to the Netherlands. Other investors, including Lindsell Train and Columbia Threadneedle have also criticised Unilever’s proposal. The Times notes that the four shareholders collectively hold more than five percent of Unilever stock.
The Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant needs approval from 75 percent of UK shareholders for the move. The London vote for the company’s simplification plans is scheduled for October 26.