Produced and edited by Jamie Han, Filmed by Joe Sinclair, Footage:Bloomberg/Reuters, Photography:AFP/Bloomberg
So Unilever, which has been based since 1930 in both the Netherlands and in the UK, is studying where it's going to have a single headquarters and a single corporate holding structure. It looks very much as if it's going to be Rotterdam in the Netherlands. That's certainly what the government is preparing for.
Partly they need to bring down their costs. But there's also a sense that Unilever was pretty shaken by a takeover approach it had from Kraft Heinz of the US last year. And the suspicion is that they would feel a lot safer being based in the Netherlands, with strong levels of takeover protection.
I think people will focus on this quite a lot as a political story and something that's related possibly to Brexit in the sense that the UK is going to be less attractive as a business location after Brexit. But there's a backstory, too, which is that a whole bunch of multinationals that had dual structures, two different main holding companies in different cities, are going to a single structure. They're doing it really because they need to save costs-- often they're in mature industries, where it's difficult to increase profits except by finding efficiencies-- and also because investors are much more international these days.
I think it's embarrassing for the prime minister, Theresa May. People are going to focus in what is a superheated kind of political atmosphere around Brexit on anything that looks like a corporate loss of faith. However, there's a bit of a tendency to accentuate the negative here. A lot of big companies are doing similar things. And for example, RELX, which is another Anglo-Dutch business, opted last week to base itself in London. And that didn't generate many big headlines at the time.