Unilever axes move from London to Rotterdam

Unilever had originally unveiled the planned headquarters switch to Rotterdam, above, in March in a symbolic decision that was largely interpreted by analysts as a blow to post-Brexit Britain. (Reuters)
Updated 05 October 2018
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Unilever axes move from London to Rotterdam

LONDON: Anglo-Dutch consumer giant Unilever on Friday axed its post-Brexit plan to move its main headquarters from London to Rotterdam amid shareholder unease.
The group, which makes famous brands like yeast extract Marmite, PG Tips tea, Persil washing powder and Magnum ice cream, said it was withdrawing a proposal that would have seen its corporate base move to the Netherlands.
“The Unilever board has today decided to withdraw its proposal to simplify Unilever’s dual-headed legal structure,” the company said in a statement.
The group had originally unveiled the planned switch in March in a symbolic decision that was largely interpreted by analysts as a blow to post-Brexit Britain.
A Unilever spokeswoman confirmed it would no longer seek to relocate away from the British capital.
“In developing the proposal, the board was guided by the opportunity to unlock value for our shareholders by creating a stronger, simpler and more competitive Unilever that is better positioned for long-term success,” the statement added.
“We have had an extensive period of engagement with shareholders and have received widespread support for the principle behind simplification.
“However, we recognize that the proposal has not received support from a significant group of shareholders and therefore consider it appropriate to withdraw.”
Unilever had in recent weeks faced mounting opposition from key shareholders, including Royal London, Columbia Threadneedle, Legal & General Investment Management, Aviva Investors, Lindsell Train, M&G Investments and Brewin Dolphin.
However, chairman Marijn Dekkers insisted on Friday that the board continued to believe simplifying Unilever’s structure remains in the firm’s best interests.
“Unilever has built a long track record of consistent and competitive performance,” Dekkers said.
“The board continues to believe that simplifying our dual-headed structure would, over time, provide opportunities to further accelerate value creation and serve the best long-term interests of Unilever.
“The board will now consider its next steps and will continue to engage with our shareholders.”


Brent eases from 2019 highs as markets await US-China trade talks outcome

Updated 19 February 2019
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Brent eases from 2019 highs as markets await US-China trade talks outcome

  • The slight downward correction was driven by concerns about the health of the global economy this year
  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch expects Brent prices to average between $50 and $70 per barrel

SINGAPORE: Brent crude oil prices eased away from 2019 highs on Tuesday on caution that economic growth may dent fuel demand this year, although supply cuts led by OPEC still meant markets were relatively tight.
International Brent crude oil futures were at $66.08 per barrel at 0220 GMT, down 42 cents, or 0.6 percent from their last close, but still not far off the 2019 high of $66.83 a barrel hit in the previous session.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $55.71 per barrel. While that was up 12 cents from their last settlement, it was below the $56.33 2019 high from the previous day.
Traders said the slight downward correction was driven by concerns about the health of the global economy this year.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a note that the Sino-American trade dispute was hurting economic growth globally.
“Addressing global trade tensions is key for improving the economic outlook,” it said in a note.
China’s vice premier and chief trade negotiator, Liu He, and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer lead a round of trade talks this week in Washington.
Considering the economic outlook and supply and demand balances, the bank said it expects Brent prices to average between $50 and $70 per barrel, “anchored around $60.”
Despite some caution around trade, global oil markets remain relatively tight because of supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), with top crude exporter Saudi Arabia cutting the most.
Saudi seaborne crude exports fell in the first half of February, with departures standing at 6.204 million barrels per day (bpd), a 1.341 million bpd decline on the previous month and 0.91 million bpd decline on the year, data intelligence firm Kpler said.
Further providing oil markets with support are US sanctions against petroleum exporters Iran and Venezuela.
Venezuela is a major crude supplier to US refineries while Iran is a key exporter to major demand centers in Asia, especially China and India.