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Unilever drops plan to close London headquarters

Unilever, a maker of Ben and Jerry's ice cream, announced Friday that it would scrap its plan to close its London headquarters. File photo courtesy of Ben & Jerry's

By Sommer Brokaw, UPI

Unilever, maker of Dove soap and Ben & Jerry's ice cream, among other brands, announced Friday that it has dropped plans to close its London headquarters.

The company proposed in March to simplify its dual-headed legal structure, consisting of Unilever PLC in London, United Kingdom, and Unilever NV in Rotterdam, Netherlands into a single entity in the Netherlands.

However, critics saw the move as a blow to Britain as it negotiates its exit from the European Union.

Meanwhile, Unilever CEO Paul Polman denied that the move was Brexit-related, adding that money is still being invested in the United Kingdom.

Executives said that streamlining the headquarters of the legal entities would help the company, but the idea drew significant shareholder opposition sparking the decision to withdraw the proposal.

"We have had an extensive period of engagement with shareholders and have received widespread support for the principle behind simplification. However, we recognize that the proposal has not received support from a significant group of shareholders and therefore consider it appropriate to withdraw," a Unilever statement said Friday.

"Unilever has built a long track record of consistent and competitive performance," Chairman Marjin Dekkers added. "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."

"The board will now consider its next steps and will continue to engage with our shareholders," he continued. We will proceed with the plan to cancel the NV preference shares, further strengthening our corporate governance."

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Unilever drops plan to close London headquarters
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