Oct 5, 2018
Unilever U-turn exposes neglect of small shareholders
The humiliation of the Unilever directors would have been far less had they paid attention to criticism of their ill-judged "Simplification" scheme. The suspicion that Unilever was trying to bounce the plc shareholders into considering this far-reaching move as a routine matter was there from the start, in the original press release, entitled "Building the Unilever of the Future." After burbling on about how British Unilever's businesses were, moving head office and domicile to Rotterdam was mentioned, almost casually, in the sixth paragraph. What looked to them as a demand that their clients take one for the team was viewed by Unilever as a small minority trying to thwart the company's best interests. There was no question of changing the proposal, merely the repeated assertion that a big majority of Unilever plc shareholders were in favour, even though none of the biggest names was endorsing it publicly. Small shareholders are an endangered species, and unless the rules are changed, will become even more scarce.
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