British shareholders in laundry and food group Unilever agreed today to move the company to the UK. Unilever now has two British and Dutch subsidiaries and head offices in London and Rotterdam. Dutch shareholders already approved in September the existing London head office merger plan.
In England, 99.5 per cent of equity holders today rallied behind the plan. Thus interest has taken a very important step in simplifying the structure.
The transfer plan is now expected to be officially implemented at the end of November, after shareholder approval.
However, the new Dutch law can still throw a key in the business. It was recently announced that GroenLinks is going through an emergency law under which the party wants to prevent companies from relocating to a country where a profit tax is not imposed in order to avoid taxes in this way. Despite heavy criticism from the State Council, GroenLinks sends this so-called Unilever Act to the House of Representatives.
The proposal by MP Bart Snels states that shareholders to whom dividends are paid must pay a “fine” if the company relocates to a country where there is no such dividend tax.
Violation of European rules
Unilever has already announced that the move will not go forward if the law is passed. The United Kingdom does not have a dividend tax. But the company believes the proposal violates European agreements and tax treaties. Hence, preparations for this step are continuing at the present time.
The House of Representatives has yet to debate the GroenLinks Act, but the proposal does not stand a chance. In addition to the opposition, a number of coalition parties see something in the plan.
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