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Unilever scraps plan to leave London headquarters

FILE - In this Thursday, March 15, 2018 file photo, the logo for Unilever appears above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Anglo-Dutch consumer goods multinational Unilever, whose brands include Knorr and Dove, has scrapped a plan to consolidate its headquarters in the Netherlands following opposition from British shareholders. The company, which has head offices in both Rotterdam and London, says in a statement Friday, Oct. 5, 2018 that the plan to make Rotterdam its sole headquarters "has not received support from a significant group of shareholders." (AP Photo/Richard Drew, file)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Anglo-Dutch consumer goods multinational Unilever, whose brands include Knorr and Dove, on Friday scrapped a plan to consolidate its headquarters in the Netherlands following opposition from British shareholders.

The company, which has head offices in both Rotterdam and London, said in a statement that the plan to make Rotterdam its sole headquarters “has not received support from a significant group of shareholders.”

“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 company statement added.

Unilever announced the plan in March as part of a package of structural changes that would make it “a simpler, more agile and more focused business.”

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called Unilever’s decision Friday “disappointing” and said that it had prompted his government to reconsider a package of tax reform that included an unpopular plan to abolish a tax on corporate dividends.

“If something like this happens, it makes sense to look again” at the tax package, Rutte said at his weekly press conference.

Rutte said the package was aimed at making it attractive for big businesses to stay in or move to the Netherlands.

However, the move to abolish the dividend tax ran into major opposition in the Netherlands.

The initial decision to leave London had attracted headlines in Britain, where there are concerns that the country might become less attractive to businesses because it is leaving the European Union and its seamless single market.

Unilever’s chairman, Marijn 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.”

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