Unilever launches €6bn share buy-back programme

By Johan De Mulder

Unilever has commenced its promised share buy-back programme, which its estimated could be worth up to €6bn.

The first tranche of the programme started on Tuesday and will be for an aggregate market value equivalent to €3bn, of which €1.5bn will be bought back in the form of Unilever PLC ordinary shares and €1.5bn will be bought back in the form of Unilever N.V. ordinary shares.

With further tranches set to be announced in due course, the company is moving forward with its strategy that was reemphasised by Chief Executive Officer Paul Polman upon the release of its Q1 fiscal results last month.

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"For the full year, we continue to expect underlying sales growth in the 3%–5% range and an improvement in underlying operating margin and cash flow that keep us on track for our 2020 goals," he said. "The share buy-back programme will return the expected after-tax proceeds from the spreads disposal. We are raising the dividend by 8%, reflecting confidence in our outlook."

In March, Business Chief reported Unilever's intentions to streamline its business by reverting to a single legal entity with three core divisions, a major structural change.

"The Board believes the move to three divisions and the simplification of our corporate structure will create a simpler, more agile and more focused company," said Chairman Marijn Dekkers at the time. "Our decision to headquarter the divisions in the UK and the Netherlands underscores our long-term commitment to both countries."

Employing over 10,000 people in the Netherlands and the UK, Unilever has focused its vision around creating a 'more consumer-facing organisation that enables us to roll out global innovations faster and be more agile in responding to local trends'.

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