Oct 11, 2017

Unilever moves to simplify corporate structure after failed bid by Kraft Heinz

Unilever on Wednesday launched the €450m buyback of its Dutch preference shares in a move that simplifies the Anglo-Dutch company's capital structure, paving the way for it to potentially become a single corporation that could make it easier to pursue large M&A. The producer of Dove soap, Axe deodorants and Hellmann's mayonnaise said in August that it would acquire its Dutch preference shares through a buyback and public offer. In April, Unilever said it would review its dual-headed corporate structure, making no secret of the merits of a simplified structure that would enable it to be more agile, especially in large-ticket M&A involving shares but also in the case of a demerger of a business. In August the group said it had agreed terms with NN Investment Partners and ASR Nederland for the acquisition of their 6 per cent and 7 per cent cumulative preference shares in Unilever NV, the company's Dutch-listed entity, representing 97 per cent of such preference shares. The public offer is to enable remaining holders to sell their preference shares on the same terms. These preference shares were issued between 1927 and 1964 and carry a higher nominal value and greater voting rights than ordinary shares.

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