London — Unilever defended its plan to move its headquarters to the Netherlands at what could be its last London annual meeting on Wednesday, saying that the decision had nothing to do with protectionism or Dutch takeover rules. Unilever chairman Marijn Dekkers repeated that the choice of the Netherlands, announced in March, was aimed at strategic flexibility rather than protectionism. If the company had a protective mind-set for incorporating in the Netherlands, it would not have sought to cancel existing Dutch preference shares that allowed certain shareholders a greater voice than others, Dekkers said. He said that decision showed that Unilever was not chasing protectionism. Despite having had a dual-headed Anglo-Dutch structure for 88 years, Dekkers said the structure was a hindrance in a fast-changing retail and consumer environment. Shareholders are expected to vote on the issue at the end of the third quarter, with the HQ move expected towards the end of 2018. Dekkers emphasi...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Sunday Times Daily.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now