Unilever seeks to deny nominee-based shareholder rights

Our Chairman, Gavin Oldham, writes letter to Secretary of State for Business to appeal against Unilever’s denial of nominee-based shareowners’ rights.

  • Unilever is approaching critical vote on moving headquarters to Netherlands
  • Gavin Oldham OBE blasts the FTSE 100 company’s actions over shareholder rights as unacceptable
  • Oldham calls on Rt. Hon Greg Clark to intervene and ensure shareholder rights are not compromised

In the critical forthcoming Unilever vote on moving its headquarters to the Netherlands, there is a “member count” process which provides personal shareowners with a significant opportunity to influence the outcome.

However, notwithstanding the provisions of Part 9 of the Companies Act 2006, Unilever is seeking to deny nominee shareowners’ right to be individually counted.

The group state the following on their website:

“PLC Shareholders who hold all their shares through a broker or other nominee arrangement will not be directly counted towards the Majority in Number Test”.

They propose that such shareholders can certificate some of their shareholding as an alternative, but this is clearly impractical in the time available and cannot in any case be done from an ISA or other tax-incentivised account.

In response to this, our Chairman Gavin Oldham has written to Rt. Hon Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, to request his intervention – you can read his full letter here.

Speaking on the matter, Gavin Oldham OBE said: “Time is of the essence, as a large number of nominee shareowners are already casting their vote unaware that Unilever plc intends to deny them their rights.”

“It is unacceptable for Unilever to ride roughshod over the rights of nominee-based shareowners, and we will continue to work with other interested parties to ensure that Unilever recognise the very large numbers of personal investors taking an active interest in the future of their company.”

We will be keeping our customers updated on any progress regarding the Unilever vote but in the meantime, let us know what you think in the comments section below.