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Unilever to merge Anglo-Dutch structure

Unilever announced plans on Thursday to ditch its dual Anglo-Dutch legal structure and create a single company in Britain to allow more flexibility for mergers and acquisitions.

The consumer goods giant announced the plan almost two years after backtracking on plans to end the dual structure by shifting its headquarters to the Netherlands from London.

“This post-COVID world is going to be a dynamic environment … with opportunities for Unilever to create value for shareholders,” chief executive Alan Jope told Reuters reporters.

Unilever said the proposal was the result of an 18-month review and was accelerated partly by a decision to demerge its tea business, a review of which is still underway.

“Increasing Unilever’s strategic flexibility for portfolio evolution, including through equity-based acquisitions or demergers. Such flexibility is even more important as we anticipate the increasingly dynamic business environment that the Covid-19 pandemic will create,” the company said in a statement.

The unification would be achieved through a cross-border merger, with shareholders of Dutch Unilever NV getting one share of British Unilever Plc for each share held.

Half of the Dutch shareholders and 75 per cent of the British shareholders will need to approve the plan for it to proceed.

Unilever, which expects to remain listed on the Amsterdam and London stock exchanges, said it expected no cost savings from the move as it would not change its British or Dutch operations, locations, activities or staffing.

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