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Unilever Reverses Plan to Close London Headquarters

Category: Europe,World

Unilever, the consumer products giant, has given up on plans to close its London headquarters, responding to shareholder criticism of an initiative to simplify the company’s organization.

The company announced in March that it would make Rotterdam, the Netherlands, its sole headquarters. The move was seen as a symbolic blow to Britain as it negotiates a breakup with the European Union.

“We recognize that the proposal has not received support from a significant group of shareholders and therefore consider it appropriate to withdraw,” the company said in a statement.

For nearly a century, the company — whose products include Dove soap, Hellmann’s mayonnaise, and Lipton tea — has maintained headquarters in both London and the Netherlands. Some investors have pushed Unilever to eliminate the dual structure, arguing that doing so would make the company more agile and better able to pursue mergers.

But plans to simplify the organization — and make Rotterdam the single headquarters — drew opposition from British investment firms and shareholders.

“The board continues to believe that simplifying our dual-headed structure would, over time, provide opportunities to further accelerate value creation and serve the best long-term interests of Unilever,” Marijn Dekkers, Unilever’s chairman, said in a statement from the company. “The board will now consider its next steps and will continue to engage with our shareholders.”

Unilever said last year that it would review its legal structure after Kraft Heinz briefly considered a $143 billion takeover of the company.

The reversal is a victory for British government officials who have lobbied hard to persuade Unilever to maintain its London headquarters.

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