Oct 14, 2018
Unilever U-turn shows how angry shareholders are securing change
Iain Richards, head of responsible investment at Columbia Threadneedle and one of the consumer goods company's biggest shareholders, lambasted Unilever in a rare public statement in March, accusing the maker of Dove soap of not engaging with investors ahead of its decision. Unilever's about-turn was the latest example of how disgruntled shareholders are successfully pushing for change at the companies they invest in, after years of being criticised for not holding businesses to account. We are in an environment where shareholders are being much more active about their ownership of companies. He added: "We are in an environment where shareholders are being much more active about their ownership of companies than they have been in recent years." His 40,000-word report, which argued that "Promoting good governance and stewardship is . . . a central, rather than an incidental, function of UK equity markets", is credited by many in the industry in driving change in how big investors interact with the companies they own.
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