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Unilever Must Reassure Workers Following Failed Takeover

Wednesday, March 1, 2017


Company fought off threat of massive takeover – but spectre of ‘comprehensive review …to accelerate value for benefit of shareholders’ still looms.

GMB is looking for Unilever to provide reassurances for workers following the failed £115billion takeover by Kraft/Heinz.

Last week Unilever fought off the bid [1], which was driven by private equity investor ‘sharks’ 3G Capital.

Unilever has a reasonable track record of investing in companies, insourcing work, reducing causal employment and recognising trade unions like GMB.

However 3Gs business model is based on relentlessly cutting costs in the name of profit.

If the bid had been successful – “Unilever would have emerged saddled with the debt and subject to extraordinary cost pressures. It would be unrecognisable.” [2]

Even though the takeover failed – Unilever released an opaque message to the press last week:

“Unilever is conducting a comprehensive review of options available to accelerate delivery of value for the benefit of our shareholders.

“The events of the last week have highlighted the need to capture more quickly the value we see in Unilever.

“We expect the review to be completed by early April, after which we will communicate further.”

GMB has requested a briefing at the next Trade Union forum to explain what these options are - as well as any potential fallout from the botched takeover.

Eamon O’Hearn, GMB National Officer, said:

"GMB members working for Unilever had a lucky escape when the Kraft/Heinz takeover failed.

“3G are nothing short of sharks – acquiring companies with borrowed cash and saddling them with debt – ruthlessly cutting everything they can – including staff – to maximise profits before selling up and moving on.

“But the danger may not be over for our members.

“Unilever has a proud history, and many progressive employment practices, however GMB is concerned that it's statement sounds like the botched takeover has scared them into adopting 3G’s slash and burn tactics.

“We're expecting Unilever to be transparent about their plans and provide reassurances to our members about their commitment to quality UK jobs.”


Contact: GMB press office on 07958 156846 or at

Notes to editors:

[1] Kraft Heinz withdraws Unilever takeover bid

February 19 2017

US food giant pulls out of merger talks in a surprise turn of events with both companies jointly announcing ‘no deal’

Read more:

[2] Unilever, Kraft Heinz and swimming with sharks

February 27 2017

It took only 48 hours for Unilever to fight off a USD 143 billion Kraft Heinz takeover bid; the shock waves will reverberate far longer at Unilever and beyond

Read more: 

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