Unilever ‘un­likely to trade on FTSE’ af­ter Dutch move

Irish Independent - - Business - Ka­ly­eena Mako­rtoff

UNILEVER’S shares are “ex­tremely un­likely” to con­tinue trad­ing in the FTSE 100 af­ter the com­pany an­nounced it is ditch­ing its Lon­don base and dual head­quar­ters for a sin­gle site in Rot­ter­dam.

Its chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer, Graeme Pitkethly, said yes­ter­day that the com­pany had been “en­gag­ing ex­ten­sively” with FTSE Rus­sell – the FTSE’s gov­ern­ing body – in re­cent months over its plans to sim­plify the busi­ness.

But with­out a UK head­quar­ters, Unilever is ex­pected to fall short of re­quire­ments which would al­low a list­ing on the FTSE 100, where its shares cur­rently trade.

“From this it is clear that it is ex­tremely un­likely that the ‘New NV’ shares af­ter sim­pli­fi­ca­tion will be in­cluded in the FTSE UK se­ries,” Mr Pitkethly said. “Con­se­quently our weight­ing in the pan-Eu­ro­pean in­dices will be in­creased.”

The de­ci­sion to block Unilever’s shares from the FTSE has yet to be fully con­firmed as the com­pany still has to pub­lish and dis­trib­ute of­fi­cial doc­u­ments to share­hold­ers about the move.

That is ex­pected to take place within the next two months, mak­ing it likely that Unilever will be taken off the FTSE 100 by the end of the year.

Its shares will con­tinue to trade on the Lon­don Stock Ex­change, but will no longer be listed on a bench­mark in­dex.

The lat­est ad­mis­sion was in­cluded in a pre­sen­ta­tion at the Deutsche Bank Global Con­sumer Con­fer­ence in Paris.

Unilever’s Lon­don-listed shares fell more than 3.5pc in af­ter­noon trad­ing yes­ter­day.

It comes just months af­ter Unilever con­firmed it had cho­sen Rot­ter­dam over Lon­don as its new le­gal head­quar­ters, a move which has yet to be put to share­hold­ers at an ex­traor- di­nary meet­ing ex­pected to be held in the third quar­ter.

The com­pany’s board, headed by CEO Paul Pol­man, has rec­om­mended share­hold­ers vote in favour of the move, which should be im­ple­mented by year-end. The an­nounce­ment was seen as a ma­jor blow to the UK gov­ern­ment as it tries to main­tain Bri­tain’s sta­tus as a cen­tre for busi­ness af­ter Brexit.

The de­ci­sion was part of a re­think of the busi­ness fol­low­ing a hos­tile takeover at­tempt by Kraft Heinz last year. Unilever ex­ec­u­tives claimed that the move to Rot­ter­dam has “noth­ing to do with Brexit”, but the de­ci­sion was seen to cause em­bar­rass­ment for Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May and the Con­ser­va­tives, who are strug­gling to con­tain a flow of busi­nesses and their staff to the EU.

Unilever, which is be­hind well-known house­hold brands such as Dove, em­ploys an es­ti­mated 169,000 peo­ple around the world.

Bri­tish gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials re­port­edly met Unilever bosses to ex­press their con­cerns that the Lon­don head­quar­ters would be axed in favour of the Nether­lands, but failed to con­vince them over the ben­e­fits of bas­ing the com­pany’s main of­fices in the UK. (PA)

Unilever CEO Paul Pol­man has rec­om­mended the move

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