Unilever’s chief executive, Paul Polman, is stepping down just months after a shareholder rebellion forced the company to scrap a planned move from London to Rotterdam.
The group, whose brands include Marmite, Dove soap and Magnum ice-cream, ditched its plan to simplify its dual Anglo-Dutch structure in October after an unprecedented protest from UK shareholders, many of whom would have been forced to sell up if the move had gone ahead.
The row was a significant blow to the credibility of its top executives, Polman and the chair, Marijn Dekkers.
Polman’s biggest challenge, however, came last year when he fended off a £115bn takeover bid from US rival Kraft-Heinz – a raid that was said to have left executives shaken.
It prompted a major review of the group, with Polman and Dekkers later selling the spreads business and proposing to scrap the historic dual structure, which gives headquarters in London and Rotterdam equal status.
This would have seen Rotterdam as the main base, but the plan was hugely controversial and Unilever did an embarrassing U-turn after facing a storm of protest from UK investors.
Polman later said that he had no regrets and that he had always attempted to do what was right for the company.
Andrew Wood, an analyst at Bernstein, said that some investors were irked by what they considered to be the chief executive’s preachy style – but he added that Polman had a strong record over the past decade.
One thing this shows us is that these pro-EU bosses have no faith or belief in this nation’s ability to survive a good clean, no deal Brexit. These bosses Theresa May has been sucking up to do NOT represent the national interest. They represent only their view and interests, not those of their British companies.
Theresa May has continued to ignore the people’s voice in preference of a few senior business leaders who only speak for themselves and NOT, as we see here, the interests of their workforce or shareholders, the majority of whom in this democracy voted to Leave.
(Articles reflect the views of the author, and not necessarily those of Luke Nash-Jones, The Red Pill Factory, or Make Britain Great Again.)