Unilever soap opera: M&A, job cuts, Nelson Peltz joins board

May 31 (Reuters) – Unilever (ULVR.L) appointed Nelson Peltz to its board on Tuesday amid strategic discussions with the U.S. activist investor, which now has a roughly 1.5% stake in the consumer goods giant. [nL4N2XN14J]

Soap and ice cream maker Magnum has had a bumpy few years, with shares falling around a quarter from highs seen in late 2019 and CEO Alan Jope’s plans coming under scrutiny.

Here are the key developments around Unilever over the past six months.

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NOV. July 18, 2021:

Unilever has agreed to sell its global tea business to CVC Capital Partners for 4.5 billion euros ($5.1 billion), concluding a review and divisional spin-off process that had taken more than two years. Read more

JAN. 15 2022:

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) (GSK.L) said it had rejected a 50 billion pound ($68 billion) bid for its consumer goods business from Unilever. The offer “fundamentally undervalues” the company, GSK said. Read more

GSK said it received a third approach from Unilever on December 20 and the offer included £41.7 billion in cash and £8.3 billion in Unilever shares.

Unilever has confirmed that it has approached GSK to buy the business.

JAN. 17

Unilever said it would still pursue a deal for GSK’s consumer business, calling it a “strong strategic fit”, but its shares fell more than 8%. The company also said it would announce an initiative later this month to bolster its business. Read more

JAN. 19

Unilever said it would not increase its bid for GSK’s consumer healthcare business by £50 billion, dropping its pursuit of the GSK business. Sources had told Reuters that GSK would not engage with Unilever unless the offer was sweetened. Read more

JAN. 20

Influential UK fund manager Terry Smith slammed the failed bid as a “near-death experience” and urged Unilever to focus on boosting performance. Read more

JAN. 23

A source told Reuters that activist investor Nelson Peltz’s hedge fund Trian Partners took a stake in Unilever, increasing pressure on the company, months after Peltz left his company’s board. rival P&G (PG.N). Read more

JAN. 24

Unilever shares rose 6% on reports that Peltz had acquired a stake. Read more

JAN. 25

Unilever has unveiled plans to cut around 1,500 management positions and reshape its business to focus on five core product areas as it tries to drive growth. Read more


Unilever became the first major European food company to halt imports and exports from Russia after the country invaded Ukraine. Read more


Unilever raised prices more than 8% in the first quarter and warned more hikes were on the way as it raised its cost inflation forecast for the second half due to the conflict in Ukraine. Read more

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Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka and Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru Editing by Mark Potter and Bradley Perrett

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