Unilever ploughs ahead with unification plans despite €11bn exit bill threat

Legal advisors told the consumer goods firm that the penalty would break EU laws

Unilever has said it will go ahead with its plans to move operations to the UK despite the threat of a billion Euro exit bill.

Upon seeking legal advice, the Dove maker said it would “infringe” the Dutch UK tax treaty, after it was suggested the penalty would break EU laws.

In the group’s Q3 statement it wrote: “It is not clear when, or indeed if at all, the bill will be enacted, or in what form.

“As previously stated, the Board intend to proceed with their proposals provided that unification, in the Boards’ view, remains in the best interests of Unilever, its shareholders and other stakeholders as a whole.”

The consumer goods giant’s unification plan received strong support from both UK and Dutch shareholders; but, following the initial announcement, members of the Dutch Parliament’s opposition party proposed a private members bill, seeking to impose an exit tax on companies leaving the Netherlands.

If the legislation was adopted into law, it could enforce an €11bn fee upon the firm’s exit from Rotterdam.

Unilever said the move to a UK headquarters would enable it to make rapid acquisitions and sell assets quickly, and give the business more flexibility.

A court hearing to approve the merger is scheduled to take place on 2 November.

The announcement comes during a triumphant week for the group, which saw an uptick of nearly 4% for its Beauty and Personal Care division.

Skin cleansing sales neared a 20% boost for the quarter, while online sales soared by 76%.