Memos Reveal Polman and Unilever at Centre of Tax Scandal Engulfing Rutte

Significant developments in the Unilever tax scandal in Holland overnight. Bombshell documents released to the press name Unilever as the primary cause of the Dutch government’s decision to abolish its dividend tax, and confirm Unilever’s Brexit-hating boss Paul Polman was involved in the discussions. The secret sweetheart deal was seen as “decisive” in Unilever’s decision to move its listing from London to Holland. This is causing a major problem for Mark Rutte – he claimed he was not aware of these memos, but their contents show he very much was and suggest Unilever managed to change Dutch government policy, at huge cost to the Dutch treasury, without any democratic legitimacy. Polman needs 75% of Unilever shareholders to approve the move to Holland. These smoking gun memos will put his ability to reach that threshold in further doubt…

Unilever Faces Shareholder Revolt Amid Dutch Tax Scandal

Guido has previously reported on how Unilever’s fanatical Remainer boss Paul Polman is threatening to drop the company’s London listing. Polman’s plan has been described by City figures as a “nasty campaign” motivated by his opposition to Brexit. There is another reason. A major scandal is brewing in Holland, where the Dutch government has abolished its dividend tax as part of its efforts to lure Unilever over. Polman and Mark Rutte are facing accusations they cooked up a sweetheart tax deal which the Dutch government then attempted to cover up, at huge cost to the Dutch treasury. It has since been forced to admit its private memos on the arrangement made “politically sensitive” references to “another country”, i.e. on Brexit. Unilever shareholders were already unhappy with Polman’s attempts to switch to an exclusive Dutch listing. Jeremy Warner explains why they are going to lose out:

Stripped of its UK domicile, Unilever will no longer be eligible for inclusion in FTSE indices, meaning that investors who track those indices might be forced to sell at possibly disadvantageous prices. To proceed, Unilever needs the approval of 75pc of its plc shareholders. Index holders, some of whom have already spoken out against the plan, own around a fifth of the capital, so it’s by no means in the bag, even with the help of a sneaky little $6bn (£4.3bn) buyback, announced last week. Unilever has a fight on its hands… If I were Paul Polman, Unilever’s Brexit-hating chief executive, I’d be worried. There’s a high chance of his swansong going up in smoke.

The two reasons why Unilever wants to move to Holland are the abolition of the dividend tax – so much for the level playing field – and protective rules which will make takeovers (like the Kraft attempt last year) much harder. Which means Rutte, in his regular pops at Britain over Brexit, has been criticising the UK for not accepting the freedoms of single market but attracting companies to Holland by restricting flow of capital. Will Unilever’s shareholders succeed in stopping the move?

Unilever U-Turn on Threat to Drop London Listing For Now

Last week saw reports that Unilever is considering dropping its London listing and reporting only to the Amsterdam stock exchange (it is currently listed with both). The story was widely interpreted as a threat from Unilever’s ultra-Remainer CEO Paul Polman, who has been using his position to undermine Brexit at every turn. Well, some good news from Unilever’s investor event this morning: “the Board intends to maintain listings in the Netherlands, United Kingdom and United States”. And Polman is on his way out of the company. Maintaining their London listing and ignoring the whinging of their Remainiac CEO is a sensible decision by the Unilever board, they would do well to drop his naff campaign once and for all…

Unilever’s Remain Ultra CEO Threatens to Drop London Listing

Pro-Remain papers and Vince Cable are jumping on reports yesterday that Unilever is considering dropping its London listing and reporting only to the Amsterdam stock exchange (it is currently listed with both). It’s the latest move from Unilever’s Remain ultra CEO Paul Polman, whose previous efforts to fight Brexit include ordering his staff to vote Remain, accusing the Leave campaign of lying, demanding Theresa May seeks an even longer transition, claiming Brexit would cause job losses and even threatening 50% tariffs on ice cream. Remember, for all Unilever’s Europhilia and pro-Remain campaigning, that does not extend to their profits remaining in high-tax EU states. They book their profits in Switzerland

City figures say this is part of a wider campaign by Polman. One says:

“It looks like there’s a nasty campaign by Remainer-in-Chief and Unilever CEO Paul Polman to switch the company to exclusive Dutch listing. He is putting his politics before rational economics. This won’t go down well with shareholders, even after Unilever stitched up a cosy tax arrangement in the most recent Dutch coalition deal.”

Worth noting that none of Unilever’s 7,500 UK jobs would be affected if they drop their London listing. Still, gets a good anti-Brexit headline…

BBC BIAS: Paris Climate Week Special

bbc green bias

Climate Week Paris is upon us and the BBC are going into overdrive. Environment analyst Roger Harrabin is leading the charge…

In an article today, Harrabin slavishly turns a comment by Unilever Chief executive Paul Polman into a slobbering 700 word quasi-editorial, unquestioningly repeating Polman’s assertion that Unilever has faced business costs that were €300m-to-€400 million higher than normal due to extreme weather.

Then, in an effort to remain fair and balanced, Harrabin informed readers that other business people don’t share Polman’s views with a classic oil-barons-own-politics smear.

“But for every CEO who makes promises in Paris this week, others will warn against a rush away from CO2. America’s fossil fuel giants, the Koch Brothers, are spending $900 million on political advertising to make their case.”

In fact the Koch’s aren’t spending $900 million on anything – they are part of a group of 300 donors who plan to spend that amount on next years presidential race.. as do the other side.

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