UK – British-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever still has not officially decided on whether to keep its European headquarters in the UK or the Netherlands as part of plans to unify the business under one roof.
However, speculation is mounting with many reports claiming Unilever will ditch the UK in the wake of Brexit and favor Rotterdam as the location for its headquarters.
According to FoodIngredientsFirst, their approach to Unilever for a comment was unsuccessful as the company was not disclosing any further information at the time.
The Unilever Board has not met to make the final decision on where the headquarters will be located and a meeting to decide the base for Unilever’s global operations could be on the cards in the coming weeks.
The Financial Times believes Rotterdam is in pole position to become the British-Dutch Unilever’s new main office, instead of London, as it claims the information comes from political insiders
“Theresa May is bracing for Unilever to choose the Netherlands over the UK,” a source is quoted as saying in the Financial Times.
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has been lobbying Unilever to choose the Netherlands, while UK officials have reportedly been making the case for London.
Currently, the company is co-headquartered in Unilever House, London, and in Weena, Rotterdam.
Last April Unilever announced that it was reviewing its structure in the UK and the Netherlands around the same time as the Kraft Heinz failed €143 billion approaches.
When Kraft Heinz tabled an unsollicited bid for Unilever, CEO Paul Polman promised to investigate the intricate (and expensive) organizational structure.
The Financial Times said that Unilever would want to keep its main office in Rotterdam, citing a British civil servant involved in the matter.
Kraft Heinz Co. withdrew its bid for Unilever two days after the approach became public amid stiff opposition from the Anglo-Dutch target to engage in discussions, blaming its withdrawn offer on early deal leaks, which it said thwarted efforts to negotiate a merger on a friendly basis.
Unilever also received a binding offer from KKR to purchase its global Spreads business for €6.825 billion on a cash-free, debt-free basis.
Unilever’s Spreads business includes brands such as Becel, Flora, Country Crock, Blue Band, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, Rama and ProActiv.
If Unilever were to discard London, that would be a slap to the face of British Prime Minister Theresa May.
Because of the Brexit, she lowered corporate taxes to keep as many multinationals in London.
Unilever’s London main office employs 1,300 people and the company has 7,500 employees across the United Kingdom.
Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, a former Unilever employee is also throwing everything he has to win this battle.
His government cut the dividend tax and Rutte and his team have made it relatively clear that they did that to convince Unilever to pick Rotterdam (and to keep 3,000 people employed).
The company itself had very little to say about the news.
“The decision will be taken prior to the end of the first quarter, before the end of March.”