Unilever top man Alan Jope has amazed himself at the “hostility” in the Netherlands around the relocation of the multinational to the United Kingdom. In the FD he says “When you read the comments, it sometimes seems as if Unilever is leaving the Netherlands for tax reasons. But it has nothing to do with taxes, nothing at all.”
After 91 years with headquarters in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, Unilever‘s Rotterdam headquarters moved to London two weeks ago. According to Jope, it is “an important strategic step” that has nothing to do with taxes at all.
“ One nationality makes large acquisitions and divisions easier,” he says in the newspaper. “That’s why we‘ve been wanting to adapt our 90 year old company structure for decades. First we tried to become a Dutch company. That didn’t work out. So this is how we do it. That‘s all.”
According to Jope, this step was interpreted as a departure in the Netherlands, while the headquarters of the food division remain in the Netherlands.
“ No job is lost in the Netherlands. There is no driver moving from Rotterdam. No less euro is invested in the Netherlands. Our Food Innovation Center will remain in Wageningen. Our listing on the AEX also. When unification was completed, we sang the gong in Amsterdam, not in London. I feel like I’m answering myself, but there‘s really no change!”, says Jope.
He is annoyed by the GroenLinks bill, which states that companies leaving for countries without dividend tax, such as the United Kingdom, must first deal with the Dutch tax authorities. The initiative law was popularly known as ‘moving fine for Unilever‘.
Jope’s financial advisors believe that the bill is contrary to many international treaties.