Unilever's Dutch shareholders back British move

Dutch shareholders in consumer giant Unilever voted overwhelmingly on Monday, September 21, in favor of a plan to combine its Dutch and British arms in one London-based company.

The proposal, approved by 99.42% in an extraordinary online meeting according to a Unilever statement, is the first step towards ending the company's 90-year-old double-headed structure.

British shareholders in the maker of Ben and Jerry's ice cream and Marmite must now back the plan at a meeting on October 12 for it to go ahead.

The High Court in London must also formally approve the move, the statement said.

Unilever announced the idea to become a single British-based entity called Unilever PLC in June, saying it would make it more responsive to challenges including the coronavirus pandemic.

The firm behind household brands including Dove Soap and Magnum ice cream said however that its presence in both countries would be "unchanged," and it would keep its listings on both the London and Amsterdam stock exchanges.

Unilever tried to move the firm's corporate base from London to the Dutch port of Rotterdam in 2018, but had to back down after a revolt by shareholders in Britain.

Unilever was founded in 1930 after the Dutch margarine producer Margarien Unie merged with British soap maker Lever Brothers, but has kept its dual-headed structure since then. ā€“ Rappler.com