By Saabira Chaudhuri
LONDON -- Unilever PLC will be booted from the U.K.'s blue-chip FTSE 100 index before the end of the year if the company wins a shareholder vote to consolidate its dual structure and establish a single headquarters in the Dutch city of Rotterdam.
The maker of Dove soap and Ben & Jerry's ice cream had asked FTSE Russell, the compiler of the index, to allow it to remain a component of the index. But the company has also long said it wasn't likely to succeed in that effort.
FTSE Russell, in a written statement Tuesday, said Unilever would indeed fall out of the index on Dec. 24. It is unclear which company will succeed Unilever.
Unilever, the result of a 1929 merger of a Dutch margarine maker and a British soap producer, is one of the index's highest-profile members, alongside British flagship companies such as BP PLC and Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC.
An expulsion could prompt some investors -- including funds that track the FTSE 100 -- to divest themselves of the company's shares. Shares in Rotterdam-listed Unilever NV will remain part of the Euro Stoxx 50 index, Europe's popular blue-chip index.
U.K.-listed shares in Unilever were largely flat in London on Wednesday.
Unilever said in March that it would unify its dual structure, choosing Rotterdam as its headquarters over London. The decision came after a monthslong review sparked by an unwelcome, $143 billion takeover proposal from Kraft Heinz Co. early last year.
A deletion from the FTSE 100 isn't a sure bet. The consolidation has been opposed by some British investors. Shareholders will vote on whether to approve Unilever's move in late October. The change needs approval from 50% of the company's Dutch shareholders and 75% of its U.K. ones.
Unilever has said it is confident it will get the votes. If it doesn't, the dual structure will remain in place, and Unilever will stay in the British index.
Write to Saabira Chaudhuri at firstname.lastname@example.org