A year ago when I was in London, I read an article on how Unilever would move from a dual headquarters, UK and Netherlands, to a single one to become more agile. The article also made it amply clear that Unilever would choose London as their only home given more employees sit in London and for a bunch of more reasons.
Today in Bangalore, I read that Unilever has decided to rather choose Netherlands as their home. The tone of the article was more about London loosing than Netherlands winning. It spoke at length how Brexit has gotten UK into this looser position and how Prime Minister May’s vision to make UK more global after Brexit is backfiring. The article also spoke about the CEO being a Dutch, which is ridiculous given today more top officials consider themselves global citizen. Another ridiculous argument was that the current Prime Minister in Netherlands was earlier working in Unilever. I call all these as clutter.
My reading of articles from a dozen newspapers is rather simple:
- Having dual HQ was causing Unilever agility
Unilever’s biggest concern is hostile takeover (Kraft foods eg)
Netherlands gives better protection over hostile takeover. Netherlands CM worked closely with Unilever to make it more ‘at home’
Unilever decided to go for the decision that was more favorable. Period.
A lot of articles today are adopting a storytelling approach and in doing so they add all kinds of information to make the story compelling. Don’t fall for it.