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MarketScreener Homepage  >  Equities  >  London Stock Exchange  >  Unilever PLC    ULVR   GB00B10RZP78

UNILEVER PLC

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End of an era as Unilever UK shareholders back unification plan

10/12/2020 | 10:35am EST
The company logo for Unilever is displayed on a screen on the floor of the NYSE

LONDON/AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Shareholders in Unilever Plc have approved the company's plan to end its 90-year-old dual-headed structure in favour of a single London-based entity, the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods company said on Monday.

The proposal passed with the support of more than 99% of shares voted.

The results were released during shareholder meetings streamed online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Investors in Dutch-listed Unilever NV approved the move with 99.4% support last month.

Unilever wants to unify on Nov. 29, ending a hybrid structure that dates back to the merger of British soap maker Lever Brothers and Margarine Unie in the Netherlands.

The maker of Dove soap, Hellmann's mayonnaise and Ben & Jerry's ice cream says the dual structure hampers its ability to conduct acquisitions and asset sales quickly, such as the planned sale of its tea business.

Such flexibility is key to Unilever's ambition to shift its portfolio into higher-growth areas like premium beauty. Unilever has said this will become even more important as a result of the pandemic.

The final steps towards completing the unification include UK High Court hearings on Oct. 23 and Nov. 2, with the Dutch-listed shares ceasing trading after Nov. 27.

The only potential worry for Unilever is an "exit tax" proposed by a Dutch opposition party that could cost the company up to 11 billion euros ($13 billion).

A top Dutch legal body said on Friday the current plan appeared at odds with fundamental principles of law. The opposition party has re-submitted its proposal for consideration with amendments, though no debate has been scheduled on it in parliament.

Unilever has said it does not think the law is viable, but if passed before the unification is finalised, it would be a reason to stop it.

Unilever began its push to restructure under previous management after a failed $143 billion takeover approach by Kraft Heinz in 2017.

Tax and political considerations thwarted its first attempt to unify in Rotterdam in 2018, with concerns about a 15% Dutch dividend withholding tax and forced selling by some UK shareholders once Unilever was dropped from Britain's FTSE 100 index. The current plan will see Unilever Plc shares included in the Dutch AEX.

Britain's departure from the European Union gives some extra urgency, as a delay beyond this year could mean additional scrutiny from EU and British regulators.

(Reporting by Martinne Geller; Editing by Susan Fenton and Mark Potter)

By Martinne Geller and Toby Sterling


© Reuters 2020
Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
AEX 0.16% 607.39 Real-time Quote.0.30%
MSCI UNITED KINGDOM (STRD, UHD) -0.88% 992.939 Real-time Quote.-15.40%
THE KRAFT HEINZ COMPANY -3.81% 32.54 Delayed Quote.1.28%
UNILEVER N.V. -0.12% 50.96 Delayed Quote.-0.41%
UNILEVER PLC 0.48% 4582 Delayed Quote.4.82%
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Financials
Sales 2020 50 627 M 60 233 M 60 233 M
Net income 2020 5 921 M 7 045 M 7 045 M
Net Debt 2020 22 484 M 26 750 M 26 750 M
P/E ratio 2020 23,1x
Yield 2020 3,16%
Capitalization 134 B 159 B 159 B
EV / Sales 2020 3,08x
EV / Sales 2021 3,01x
Nbr of Employees 149 867
Free-Float 55,7%
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Mean consensus OUTPERFORM
Number of Analysts 26
Average target price 54,34 €
Last Close Price 51,02 €
Spread / Highest target 23,5%
Spread / Average Target 6,51%
Spread / Lowest Target -21,6%
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Managers
NameTitle
Alan Jope Chief Executive Officer & Executive Director
Nils Smedegaard Andersen Chairman
Nitin Paranjpe Chief Operating Officer
Graeme David Pitkethly Chief Financial Officer & Executive Director
Richard Slater Chief Research & Development Officer
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