One of the top shareholders in Unilever has said it will vote against the firm’s plan to move its headquarters to the Netherlands.
Major British-Dutch transnational consumer goods company Unilever, which manufactures products such as Marmite, is relocating to the Netherlands to simplify its corporate structure.
It needs 75% of shareholder votes to get the plan through and major shareholder Aviva Investors has already confirmed it does not support the plans.
Unilever currently has headquarters in both London and Rotterdam, but announced in March that it aims to soon have just one HQ located in the Dutch city.
Unilever is reported to be one of the biggest firms in the UK’s Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 Index (FTSE 100) with a market value of about £124bn.
However under UK rules, it would no longer be eligible for inclusion in the FTSE 100 in London after the proposed change.
Some shareholders fear this would cause a rush for the exits to sell the stock, leading to losses.
David Cumming, chief investment officer for equities at Aviva Investors, told Food Management Today: “We will be voting against Unilever’s proposal to relinquish its UK domicile in favour of Rotterdam.
Unilever’s decision appears to be a defensive response to recent governance challenges and consequently will not create any value for shareholders. Furthermore, a material number of long-standing supportive UK shareholders will become forced sellers due to the resultant removal of this high-quality company from the FT All Share and FTSE 100 indices.”
According to the Financial Times, more than a fifth of Unilever’s top 50 shareholders have expressed concerns privately about the relocation.
Food Management Today has contacted Unilever for comment and has not received a response.