Until today Unilever had two head offices, one in Rotterdam and one in London. The company also had two boards of directors and two classes of shares.
From tomorrow all this will be a thing of the past. After a complicated merger of the NV (the Dutch company) and the PLC (the British side), there will soon be one large British company, with one type of shares and one board.
This puts an end to the long Dutch history of the company, but in practice – at least in the short term – there will not be much of it.
The 2500 Dutch employees can continue working as usual, they are mainly located in Rotterdam and Wageningen. Although there is no longer a corporate head office in Rotterdam, the head office of the food and beverage division will remain there.
It remains to be seen how long that branch will remain part of the large Unilever. The company has already made a promise that if that part is ever split off, it will happen in the Netherlands.
The path to ‘unification’, as the process is called, has not been an easy one. Just two years ago, Unilever wanted to close the UK headquarters and continue as a fully Dutch company. At that time it still seemed that dividend tax would be abolished in the Netherlands.
But in the end the plan fell through. The main reason for this was that a fully Dutch Unilever could not be listed in the London main index. That would mean that many British investors would have to sell their shares, there was a lot of resistance.
Monday first trading day
This summer, the company announced that it would radically turn the proposal around and close its Dutch headquarters. This led to GroenLinks submitting a bill with the aim of keeping Unilever in the Netherlands, but to no avail.
From Sunday, the Netherlands will officially no longer have a Unilever head office. Starting Monday, the new PLC shares will be traded in London and Amsterdam.