The Strategist

Unilever says goodbye to London

03/16/2018 - 14:00

Theresa May's government is in limbo and is becoming less popular with the British. The cabinet of conservatives got another unexpected blow as the British-Dutch company Unilever announced a decision to move its headquarters from London to Rotterdam and change is British citizenship for European. However, this is only the beginning of a big outcome of big business from the UK on the background of the upcoming Brexit.

seamusiv via flickr
seamusiv via flickr
The decision to move Unilever from London to Rotterdam was made at the most inopportune moment for London: negotiations on Brexit are at the final stage now, and there is a scandal involving the poisoning of a former Russian colonel and his daughter, in which the British government accuses Moscow.

The British-Dutch company Unilever, one of the world leaders in the market of food and household chemicals, decided to abandon the UK. Unilever explained the decision to move the headquarters from London to Dutch Rotterdam and become a Dutch company by "technical reasons" and the desire to get "more flexibility" in activities. So, the 88-year-old "dual citizenship" seems to have come to an end. Unilever claims that the solution has nothing to do with Brexit.

However, as the BBC notes, campaigners against Brexit called this decision "a powerful blow to the British government". Unilever has been based in the UK for 90 years and it's no coincidence that the company decided to change the registration just now.

Unilever is far from the first and certainly not the last company that decided to move to the continent to avoid multi-million losses after the official "divorce" of the United Kingdom with the European Union. According to most economists and financiers, after Brexit, London will cease to be the financial capital of the Old World. Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc., Standard Chartered Plc, Daiwa Securities Group Inc., Morgan Stanley, Nomura Holdings Inc., Citigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are at various stages of the adoption of a similar decision to move to continental Europe. In addition to dozens of large financial and industrial companies, London will also lose two European regulators: the European Banking Supervision Service (EBA) and the European Medical Agency (EMA). All this is a very strong blow not only to the prestige of both London itself and the whole kingdom, but also on their finances.

London will lose several thousand wealthy financiers and officials. Suffice it to say that only the EMA headquarters employs almost a thousand people. Director of the London Stock Exchange (LSE), Xavier Rolet, had already warned the British authorities that Brexit would cost the city of London about a quarter of a million jobs. Moreover, even those companies and banks that decide not to close their offices in London will significantly reduce the number of employees.

Increasingly more Britons see that parting with Europe will cost them much more than it seemed on the eve of the referendum on UK membership in the EU in the summer of 2016, and apparently dissatisfaction with the conservatives and indistinct policies of Therese May is growing.