Since its formation in 1930, Unilever has been owned through two separated listed companies, a Dutch NV and a UK PLC.
Over the last two decades, the dual parent holding company structure has been reviewed periodically by the board and in October 2018, the board withdrew a proposal to unify its corporate structure under a new Dutch holding company.
However in June this year, Unilever announced plans to unify its structure to a UK listed company, in order to create a simpler company with greater strategic flexibility.
“This is an important day for Unilever and we would like to thank our shareholders for their strong support of our Unification proposals, which give us greater flexibility for strategic portfolio change, remove complexity and further improve governance,” said Unilever chairman, Nils Andersen.
The cross-border merger – which will see Unilever NC merge into Unilever PLC – has been approved by the UK High Court. Due to the move from the dual-headed legal structure to a single parent company, Unilever NV ceased to exist as of 29 November 2020.
For the first time, Unilever will now trade with one market capitalisation, one class of shares and one global pool of liquidity. However, it will maintain the group’s listings on the Amsterdam, London and New York stock exchanges, where Unilever PLC shares will commence today.
The owner of Ben & Jerry’s says there will be no effect to the operations, locations, activities or staffing levels in either the Netherlands or the UK as a result of the unification.
The headquarters of Unilever’s foods and refreshment division will continue to be based in Rotterdam, along with the €85 million Food Innovation centre in Wageningen. Meanwhile, Unilever’s home care and beauty & personal care divisions will continue to be headquartered in the UK.
The news also comes after Unilever announced a new annual global sales target of €1 billion from plant-based meat and dairy alternatives, within the next five to seven years.