LONDON May 19 Consumer goods group Unilever
said on Monday it had paid 715 million pounds
($1.2 billion) for the rights left in family trusts by
co-founder William Hesketh Lever in a move to simplify the
Anglo-Dutch group's share structure.
The rights are convertible in 2038 to 70.9 million shares of
Unilever Plc, or about 2.4 percent of the combined total of
London-listed Unilever Plc and Amsterdam-listed Unilever NV.
The reduction in share count will boost full-year earnings
per share by 2 percent, said the company, whose products range
from Dove soap to Lipton tea.
In a statement, Unilever Chief Financial Officer Jean-Marc
Huet said the move was good for shareholders.
"It is another step in the simplification of Unilever's
capital structure, making Unilever easier to understand, and
eliminating ahead of time the burden of a significant dilution
of shareholders' interests," Huet said.
In the 1880s, William Hesketh Lever and his brother founded
the English soap company that became Unilever Plc. When he died
in 1925, he left a large number of Plc shares in various trusts.
The price Unilever paid the trusts is equivalent to 10.09
pounds per share and represents a discount of 63 percent to the
closing share price on May 16, the company said.
Shares of Unilever Plc were up 1.2 percent 27.37 pounds at
1205 GMT in London.
($1 = 0.5942 British Pounds)
(Reporting by Martinne Geller; Editing by Mark Potter)