Alan Jope, Unilever CEO, is amazed at the excitement and hostility in the Netherlands surrounding the company’s move to the UK. A “legal paper choice” for a nationality was interpreted as a “departure”, while the headquarters of the food department simply remains in the Netherlands, he says on Saturday in the FD.
“No job is lost in the Netherlands. No driver leaves Rotterdam. No less euro is invested in the Netherlands. Our Food Innovation Center in Wageningen will remain. Our listing on the AEX too. When the union was complete, we played in Amsterdam, not London. It feels like I’m justifying myself, but nothing really changes, ”says Jope.
To make matters worse, the “departure that is not a departure” has acquired a different meaning in Dutch public opinion, says Jope. “If you read the comments, it sometimes seems like Unilever is leaving the Netherlands for tax reasons. But it has nothing to do with taxes, nothing at all. This is an important strategic step. A nationality facilitates larger acquisitions and disposals. That is why we have wanted to adapt our ninety-year-old corporate structure for decades. At first we tried to become a Dutch company. That did not work. So that’s how we do it. That’s all.”
According to Jope, the GroenLinks bill completely changed the tone of the discussion. GroenLinks wants companies leaving for countries with no dividend tax to come to terms with the Dutch tax authorities first. “We took it very seriously and hired the best legal and financial advisors. However, the bill contradicts many international treaties. The State Council also gave downright negative advice. Ultimately, we don’t think this is a workable proposition. So we made the decision after intensive discussions. “