Pension fund calls on Unilever to overhaul health performance
One of the UK’s largest pension funds has joined a campaign to push consumer goods giant Unilever to focus more on health, after it came under fire from investors last month for lacklustre health performance.
The National Employment Savings Trust (Nest), which handles savings for a third of working Brits, said that it will back a resolution for the firm to set more ambitious health targets, The Times first reported.
The resolution will require Unilever to provide more information and set more ambitious targets on the health of its food and drink products, which include Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Marmite and Hellman’s mayonnaise.
Campaign group ShareAction which is coordinating the resolution, has gained enough backing from shareholders to take the resolution to Unilever’s board at its annual meeting in May.
Nest bosses said the firm wanted Unilever to lay out what it was doing to promote healthy products to consumers.
Diandra Soobiah, head of responsible investment at Nest, said: “Unilever was identified as one of those companies that could do more around healthy eating.”
The calls from Next come after a turbulent month for Unilever after it was revealed the firm had made three rebuffed bids for GlaxoSmithKline’s consumer healthcare arm last year.
Fund manager Terry Smith, whose firm FundSmith is a major shareholder in Unilever, also launched an attack on boss Alan Jope and the executive team for “losing the plot” with their focus on purpose over profit.
Activist investor group ShareAction has coordinated backing from 100 Unilever shareholders for the new resolution.
Jope last month looked to settle investor concerns over the rebuffed bids with a major overhaul of the company’s structure and sweeping job cuts.