Unilever wins in­vestors’ ap­proval for UK move

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Front Page - By Han­nah Ut­t­ley

UNILEVER’S Dutch share­hold­ers have over­whelm­ingly backed pro­pos­als to shift the con­sumer goods ti­tan’s le­gal base to Lon­don, de­fy­ing politi­cians in The Hague who had threat­ened a re­venge tax raid.

More than 99pc of votes cast at an on­line meet­ing were in favour of a uni­fi­ca­tion plan in which Mar­mite maker Unilever will aban­don its An­glo-Dutch struc­ture af­ter 90 years and be based solely in Bri­tain.

The firm still needs ap­proval from Bri­tish in­vestors, who are ex­pected to wave through the scheme in

their own bal­lot on Oct 12. Bosses are push­ing ahead with the move de­spite pro­pos­als from the Nether­lands’ op­po­si­tion GreenLeft (GroenLinks) party for an “exit tax” that would cost the group €11bn (£10.1bn).

The tax would hit busi­nesses with an­nual rev­enues of more than €750m that move abroad. It has been mod­i­fied since the plans were first launched so that share­hold­ers, rather than Unilever, would be sub­ject to the tax bill.

Unilever has in­di­cated the tax would vi­o­late in­ter­na­tional law, and it has trig­gered wide­spread claims of pro­tec­tion­ism.

How­ever, Alan Jope, the firm’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, ad­mit­ted that Unilever could can­cel the merger up to the mo­ment of a High Court ap­proval hear­ing if the law were passed.

Unilever says the change will make it eas­ier to carry out ac­qui­si­tions or de­merg­ers, in­clud­ing a po­ten­tial sale of its tea busi­ness, which makes PG Tips.

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