Unilever has confirmed that it has chosen Rotterdam over London as its new legal headquarters, dealing a major blow to the UK Government as it tries to uphold Britain’s status as a centre for business after Brexit.
Following a board meeting on Wednesday, the consumer goods giant said that it intends to “simplify” from two legal entities into a single one incorporated in the Netherlands.
“The proposed simplification will provide greater flexibility for strategic portfolio change and help drive long-term performance,” the group said.
Unilever insisted that its 7,300 workers the UK and 3,100 in the Netherlands will be unaffected by the changes.
It added that Unilever will continue to be listed in London, Amsterdam and New York.
The announcement comes after a review of Unilever’s dual-headed legal structure in the UK and Netherlands, which was part of a rethink of the business following a hostile takeover attempt by Kraft Heinz last year.
Unilever, which is behind well-known household brands such as Dove, Marmite and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, employs around 169,000 people around the world.
Unilever executives claimed that the move to Rotterdam has “nothing to do with Brexit,” but the decision will cause embarrassment for the Conservatives and Prime Minister Theresa May, who is struggling to contain a flow of businesses and their staff to the EU.
British Government officials reportedly met with Unilever to express their concerns that the London headquarters would be axed in favour of the Netherlands, but failed to convince them over the benefits of basing its main offices in the UK.