The logo of the Unilever group is seen at the Miko factory in Saint-Dizier, France, May 4, 2016. REUTERS/ PHILIPPE WOJAZER
The logo of the Unilever group is seen at the Miko factory in Saint-Dizier, France, May 4, 2016. REUTERS/ PHILIPPE WOJAZER

London -A leading proxy voting adviser says investors with London-listed shares of consumer goods firm Unilever should oppose its plan to create a single holding company in the Netherlands.

The call by the influential advisory firm follows a series of public announcements in recent days from institutional investors concerned about the move.

Pensions & Investment Research Consultants Ltd (PIRC), which advises pension schemes and other investors, said it was concerned about the effect on investors who would be forced to sell their shares. "The company’s exclusion from the FTSE 100 may compel some shareholders to sell their shares at a price and time that is not of their choosing, effectively resulting in a forced selling decision," PIRC said in a report.

With affected holders likely to be some of Unilever’s longest-standing investors, the board was being "short-sighted to presume that they have no voice", PIRC said. "Ultimately, it could be viewed that the (UK) PLC shareholders are being asked to consent to a takeover without a premium being paid," it said.

PIRC said that it had issued separate guidance to holders of the Dutch shares backing the move. Earlier on Wednesday, Royal London Asset Management said it would also vote against the plan after similar statements from Legal & General Investment Management, Schroders and others.

For Unilever’s proposal to pass, it needs approval from 75% of the UK PLC’s voted shares, and 50% of the Dutch NV’s.

It also needs to be endorsed by a majority of shareholders.

If approved, at votes scheduled for October 25 and 26, the existing shares would stop trading on December 21, with the new shares beginning to trade on December 24.

Reuters