Unilever choses post-Brexit Dutch HQ over London


The Hague (AFP)

Anglo-Dutch consumer giant Unilever on Thursday named The Netherlands over London to host its headquarters, dealing a blow to Britain's efforts to keep post-Brexit investment in the country.

"Unilever intends to simplify from two legal entities, N.V. and PLC, into a single legal entity incorporated in the Netherlands," Unilever said in a statement, issued in Rotterdam and London.

The company said the move would enable it to become "a simpler, more agile and more focused business".

The announcement comes as competition heats up between cities hoping to lure business from London once Britain leaves the European Union in March 2019.

The terms of Britain's exit from the bloc are still unclear, but many firms are planning for a possible move of their EU operations into the bloc.

Unilever was founded in 1930 after the Dutch margarine producer Margarien Unie merged with British soapmaker Lever Brothers.

It has maintained a dual-headed structure since then, with listings on the London, Amsterdam and New York stock exchanges.

But Unilever said the headquarters of its beauty and home care divisions would be located in London, while its food and refreshment division will remain in Rotterdam.

Unilever's 7,300 employees in Britain and 3,100 in the Netherlands will not be affected by the changes, it said.