(Bloomberg) — Shareholders in the U.K. arm of Unilever voted overwhelmingly in favor of unifying the company’s headquarters in the U.K., moving the Dove soap maker’s plan to end dual nationality a step closer to completion.



a large building with a bridge in the background: The Unilever Plc headquarters stand on Victoria Embankment and in the foreground the River Thames and Blackfriars Bridge in London.


© Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
The Unilever Plc headquarters stand on Victoria Embankment and in the foreground the River Thames and Blackfriars Bridge in London.

More than 99% of investors in the British entity voted in favor of the move at a shareholder meeting Monday, matching an earlier approval rate by Dutch investors. The decision advances a plan to streamline a cumbersome structure that has complicated major takeovers and disposals.

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The owner of Knorr stock cubes and Axe shower gel has maintained twin bases since the 1930 merger of Margarine Unie of the Netherlands and U.K. soapmaker Lever Brothers. It began moving to unwind that structure after an unsolicited takeover approach from Kraft Heinz Co. in 2017.

The move to a single headquarters has prompted speculation that Unilever would step up merger-and-acquisition activity. The company has mounted a strategic review of its tea business after selling its spreads unit and acquiring consumer health brands in South Asia from GlaxoSmithKline Plc.

The vote hands a win to Chief Executive Officer Alan Jope after the company withdrew a proposal to unify its business in the Netherlands under his predecessor, Paul Polman. That reversal came after U.K. stockholders rebelled against the company’s potential exit from the FTSE 100 index.

Unilever’s streamlining plan still faces a potential hurdle in the form of a so-called departure tax proposed by the Dutch opposition Green Party. The company has said the plan would make a move to London prohibitively expensive, but the legislation is in the early stages.

The tax proposal would breach European Union laws on freedom of establishment

PITTSFIELD TOWNSHIP, MI — A chemical company is building a new innovation center and regional headquarters in the Ann Arbor area.

Wacker Chemical Corporation is investing in a nearly 14-acre site at 4950 S. State St. in Pittsfield Township. The North American Innovation Center and Regional Headquarters will house 300 employees, including those in its Adrian headquarters and 70 new “highly-paid” employees within the next five years, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). Two-thirds of the Adrian employees will remain to continue production of elastomers, silicone fluids and silicone emulsions.

The company is expected to break ground before the end of the year and complete the project by 2022, MEDC spokeswoman Kathleen Achtenberg said.

“We are excited to move forward with our Innovation Center and Regional Headquarters to be located within Michigan,” Wacker CEO David Wilhoit said in a statement. “Our new facility will enable future growth in the state and serve as an important anchor for our operations across North America. This area is one of the nation’s leading communities for R&D. We look forward to networking with, and recruiting from, this highly educated and skilled talent base.”

Chemical company looking at Ann Arbor area to build headquarters

The company sought out the Ann Arbor area to tap into the local talent pool. Business offices will take up more than 70% of the building and about 30% will be dedicated to research and development, according to the site plan. Pittsfield Charter Township offered a 50% property tax abatement to support the project. The site was last sold to Maui Properties LLC for $890,000 in September 2019, property records show.

The company in 2017, the company established a footprint in Ann Arbor with a research and product development center. The new $51-million headquarters project will receive a $1-million