Why Unilever CEO Paul Polman stepped down? All you need to know about the crisis in 9 quick points

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Updated: November 30, 2018 2:43 PM

The move comes after Paul Polman lost the bruising battle with shareholders over the plan to shift the company's corporate headquarters to the Netherlands. 

unilever, unilever CEO, paul polman, paul, unilever profits, unilever CEOPaul Polman will stay at the company for six months working on the transition with Alan Jope. (Reuters)

Unilever chief executive officer (CEO) Paul Polman is all set to retire by the end of this year, after serving the world’s biggest consumer goods businesses for about a decade. The move comes after he lost the bruising battle with shareholders over the plan to shift the company’s corporate headquarters to the Netherlands. The Anglo-Dutch firm owns brands including Dove, Lipton and Ben & Jerry’s.

In a tweet, Polman, 62, said that he has decided to step down from the role of Unilever’s CEO. Polman, who will be succeeded by Alan Jope, is due to retire as CEO on 31 December. However, he will stay at the company for six months working on the transition with Jope, the company said in the statement.

Here is all you need to know about Unilever crisis in 10 quick points

  1. Unilever has been operating for decades with dual headquarters in London and Rotterdam. In March this year, Polman unveiled a plan to create a single structure for the consumer goods giant in the Netherlands.
  2. The decision to shift location was viewed as a setback to senior executives including Polman
  3. The move also followed a failed hostile bid by US rival Kraft Heinz in 2017.
  4. The argument in favour of relocation was that the Dutch city would simplify the structure and give the consumer goods giant more flexibility to buy or sell brands.
  5. Unilever had faced opposition to the move from its key stakeholders such as Aviva Investors, Columbia Threadneedle, Royal London, Legal & General Investment Management and others.
  6. Most of the shareholders were not supportive of the plan as it could have ended Unilever’s listing on the London Stock Exchange. Many of them would have had to sell Unilever holdings as a result.
  7. Also, the move to shift headquarter was also seen as a symbolic blow to post-Brexit Britain.
  8. Media reports also said that Polman handled the headquarter shifting issue poorly.
  9. The company did not mention anything related to the plan to move the firm’s corporate office in the statement. However, Polman’s position had been in doubt since the headquarter moving plan fell through on October 5.

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