Unilever, Britain’s third-biggest company, will scrap its London corporate headquarters and make Rotterdam its sole legal home in a blow to Prime Minister Theresa May’s government ahead of Brexit.
The maker of Dove soap and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream last year announced a review of its dual-headed structure after fighting off a $143 billion takeover offer from Kraft Heinz.
Unilever said on Thursday it would divide the business into three divisions with Beauty & Personal Care and its Home Care unit headquartered in London. The Foods & Refreshment division will be based in Rotterdam.
Unilever said its 7,300 staff in the United Kingdom will be unaffected and it will continue to be listed in London, Amsterdam and New York.
Unilever said last year that collapsing into a single entity would benefit the company and shareholders, partly by facilitating big-ticket M&A deals, but it delayed a decision on location amid heightened political sensitivity caused by Brexit.
Unilever had met with the governments of both countries in the run-up to its decision and the move will be seen as a blow to May’s government one year before Britain leaves the European Union.
“The board believes the move to three divisions and the simplification of our corporate structure will create a simpler, more agile and more focused company with increased strategic flexibility for value-creating portfolio change,” said Marijn Dekkers, Chairman of Unilever.
The British government said Unilever’s decision was not linked to Brexit.