Business

Unilever boss Paul Polman retires in wake of snub to HQ move

Paul Polman Image copyright AFP

The chief executive of consumer goods giant Unilever, Paul Polman, will retire at the end of this year.

Mr Polman, 62, has run the Marmite and Dove soap maker for the past decade.

The move comes less than two months after his plan to change Unilever's structure was scrapped in the wake of shareholder criticism.

Unilever has headquarters in both London and Rotterdam and the proposed change would have seen it based solely in the Netherlands.

However, investors argued the move could have forced UK shareholders to sell their shares.

Alan Jope, who is president of Unilever's beauty and personal care division, will take over from Mr Polman.

Unilever chairman Marijn Dekkers said Mr Polman was "an exceptional business leader who has transformed Unilever, making it one of the best-performing companies in its sector, and one of the most admired businesses in the world".

He will stay on until the middle of next year to help the transition.

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Media captionUnilever boss Paul Polman told the BBC last year he lives by an African proverb

Unilever's dual-headed structure has existed since 1930, when Dutch margarine firm Unie merged with British soap maker Lever Brothers.

It is one of the biggest firms in the UK's FTSE 100 share index, valued at about £124bn.

Scrapping the move means the company - which also makes Pot Noodle and Ben & Jerry's ice cream - has kept its listing on the London Stock Exchange.

Under UK rules it would not have been eligible to be part of the FTSE 100 had the proposed change gone through.

This had concerned investors in the company, who were worried the change could spark a sell-off and drive down the share price.

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