Apr 19, 2018

Unilever lifts dividend, plots €6bn share buyback

Anglo-Dutch consumer group Unilever has sweetened its quarterly dividend and announced plans for a large share buyback amid a row with investors over its plans to drop its UK headquarters for Rotterdam. Alongside issuing a trading update for the first quarter of the year that Unilever said had demonstrated "Broad-based growth", the Marmite-to-Dove shampoo maker hiked its quarterly payout to shareholders by 8 per cent to €0.3872. Unilever also plans to start buying back €6bn worth of shares starting next month using the proceeds of the sale of its spreads division to buyout group KKR. The group notched up €12.6bn worth of sales in the first quarter, which was a 5.2 per cent drop on the same time last year, and driven by adverse currency movements. In Wednesday's sales update Unilever chief executive Paul Polman focused on the group's financial future instead of the impending move to a single base in Rotterdam. "For the full year, we continue to expect underlying sales growth in the 3 per cent - 5 per cent range and an improvement in underlying operating margin and cash flow that keep us on track for our 2020 goals," he said.

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