Unilever abandons its plans. ANOTHER VICTORY FOR INDIVIDUAL SHAREHOLDERS

This morning 5 October Unilever announced it had abandoned its plans, so there is no longer any need to vote. What good news this is. It is a triumph for all those involved in engaging with the company, who have belatedly listened to our arguments.

 

We were very concerned about the disenfranchisement of individual investors in the Unilever vote on 26 October.  

Members may wish to know that as part of our campaign, ShareSoc on 4 October, sent the following OPEN LETTER TO PLATFORMS AND NOMINEE COMPANIES.

4 October 2018

UNILEVER PLC General Meeting on 26 October

You may have seen our letter to the FT, a copy of which is appended.

As you are aware, the court in its deliberations on the proposed scheme of arrangement, is required to take account not only of the percentage of votes cast but also the number of shareholders voting for and against the resolution.

ShareSoc calls on platforms and their associated nominee companies to provide the Unilever registrar (Computershare) with the following aggregated information about the holdings and voting preferences of beneficial shareholders for whom they act as nominee:

  1. How many Unilever shares are held in each nominee account in aggregate, and by how many discrete beneficial shareholders
  2. How many of the shares held are voted in favour of the resolution, and by how many discrete beneficial shareholders
  3. How many of the shares held are voted against the resolution, and by how many discrete beneficial shareholders

The requirement is for aggregated data only. No personal information or identifiers are to be provided.

This will allow the registrar to collate the data across multiple nominees and pass it to the court. We regard this information as crucial to the court decision on the Unilever vote.

Please feel free to ring Cliff Weight if you wish to discuss this.

With best regards,

 

Mark Northway                               Cliff Weight

Chairman,                                         Director,

ShareSoc                                           ShareSoc

 

Appendix

Joint UKSA-ShareSoc Letter in the FT re Unilever Vote and UK Shareholder Disenfranchisement

 

The letter, headed Complacency on Unilever vote may rebound on UK, was published on 28 September 2018 and said

Sir,

Neil Collins highlighted the importance of small investors in Unilever’s coming votes (Inside London, FT Weekend, September 22-23). 

A scheme of arrangement requires approval by at least 75 per cent in value of each class of the members or creditors who vote on the scheme, being also at least a majority in number of each class. 

The court’s permission is needed to convene the meetings of members and creditors to vote on the scheme and at this point the court will review whether any division of the members and creditors into classes for voting purposes is appropriate. 

However, the UK government’s complacent attitude to individual investors who hold their shares via nominee accounts may disenfranchise individual investors who mostly hold an interest in shares — they are not, under UK law, shareholders in the company. 

We have urged the government to implement the very clear objective, of the EU Shareholder Rights Directive, that the end investor should be on the shareholder register as well as the nominee. So far they have stonewalled. Now the politicians’ complacency will come back to bite them, if UK individual investors’ ownership of Unilever is ignored. 

 

Cliff Weight, ShareSoc

Peter Parry, UK Shareholders’ Association

 

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