The leadership of Unilever is getting ready to face the investors of the company for the first time following the high-profile failure of its attempt to move its headquarters to the Netherlands from London.
The third-quarter results from the consumer goods conglomerate are due to be released this week. It will mean that its leadership team is set to address the rebellious investors, who during the previous week, forced it into a humiliating about-face.
Three of the most senior managers of the company– its finance director Graeme Pitkethly, its chairman Marijn Dekkers, and its chief executive Paul Polman – are all in the firing line. They are all faced with various questions over the claims that they have failed to listen to the shareholders of the firm in the build-up to the launch of the doomed attempt of the firm to become a Dutch-listed company that will be based in Rotterdam. The move would have meant leaving behind the split UK–Netherlands structure the giant company has had maintained the 1920s.
The investors turned down the said move, which would have seen Unilever exit the FTSE 100 and forced some of the British investment groups to sell their holdings.
Even though the furore over the said move was seized upon by the campaigners on both sides of the Brexit debate, the broad consensus is that the move was not in any way connected to the relationship of the United Kingdom with the European Union, but was actually intended to protect Unilever against possible takeovers, after a $143 billion (£108.7 billion) approach by Kraft Heinz, the food giant, in 2017. The Netherlands has imposed stricter protections against foreign takeovers.
In the results themselves, analysts expect that Unilever is set to post a decline of 4.6 percent in the sales of the company, to €12.6 billion (£11 billion) for the third quarter of the year.