Unilever should ‘seriously think about splitting’, says major shareholder
One of Unilever’s largest investors has called for the consumer goods giant to split, following its failed GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) bid.
Bert Flossbach, founder and chief investment officer of Flossbach von Storch, one of Unilever’s top 10 shareholders, said that the Marmite-to-Dove soap maker is too diverse, and would benefit from slimming its operations.
“Unilever should seriously think about splitting the company,” he told the Financial Times. “Talk of synergies between different businesses is usually theoretical and designed to keep the status quo, and smaller than the efficiency gains that you would get from a split.
“If you’re a food manager, you think differently from a household products manager or a beauty manager,” Flossbach continued.
“If you run these businesses under one structure capital allocation can become a problem. And you’re very diverse in a negative sense because you don’t know precisely what you stand for.”
Another major shareholder, in Unilever’s top 20, has also reportedly urged for the removal of chair Nils Andersen, after the board gave chief executive Alan Jope the green light to continue hiking its bid for GSK.
The comments come just a week after Unilever said it would be slashing around 1,500 jobs, as part of a global restricting plan.
Unilever, which employs around 149,000 staff worldwide and 6,000 across the UK and Ireland, stressed that factory teams are not expected to be impacted by the changes.
Jope, last week, said: “Our new organisational model has been developed over the last year and is designed to continue the step-up we are seeing in the performance of our business.
“Moving to five category-focused Business Groups will enable us to be more responsive to consumer and channel trends, with crystal-clear accountability for delivery.”