Unilever CEO Paul Polman will resign at the end of December. He has been ten years at the helm of the food manufacturer. Paul Polman is succeeded by Alan Jope, the CEO of the largest division of Unilever. That is what Unilever reports on Thursday.
The position of Polman had been discussed for some time after a relocation of a new joint head office to Rotterdam failed. According to a spokesman, the failed move has nothing to do with the decision to retire now.
He always said that this is the period he would retire.
The internal follow-up started about a year ago, says the information officer.
The 62-year-old Polman had worked for years on the plan to simplify the corporate structure of Unilever, but under pressure from a group of British shareholders the move did not take place. The shareholders were feared, among other things, that it will provoke a loss of trading in the British stock index FTSE 100 in London. On the British side, the management of Unilever was accused of “never having made a good plan”.
After the move did not take place, the board’s main argument to abolish the dividend tax also disappeared, and in the end that plan also went down.
Polman recently said that the abolition of the dividend tax was a precondition for moving to Rotterdam.
“We have said very clearly to the government:
If you ever want Unilever to come to the Netherlands with its head office, that can never happen with dividend tax.
After his resignation, Polman will stay on for another six months to supervise the transition and will leave the company at the beginning of July. Before the debacle with the move to Rotterdam, Polman had to deal with a hostile takeover bid by Kraft Heinz of some 160 billion USD. At the beginning of 2017, the American group withdrew the acquisition proposal, but the affair did create the urgency at Unilever to implement changes.
The successor of Polman, Jope, has been working at Unilever since 1985 and has been responsible for the Beauty & Personal Care division since 2014. This business unit makes “Axe”, Vaseline and Prodent, among others.
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