21/02/2018 19:56 GMT

UK Government 'Braced For Unilever To Move HQ To Netherlands' - Report

Firm behind PG Tips has expressed concern about Brexit.

A branded taxi stands outside Unilever's Marmite factory in Burton upon Trent.

The British government is bracing for Unilever, which owns brands including Marmite and PG Tips, to shift its headquarters to the Netherlands after months of political pressure from both sides, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday.

British officials have held talks with the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods group, one of the UK’s biggest companies, amid fears it will pick Rotterdam as its main base rather than London, the FT said.

“It wouldn’t be a great surprise if it happened,” the paper quoted a British official briefed on the discussions as saying.

Unilever had no comment, noting that a decision has not yet been made.

The firm has expressed misgivings about Brexit. It has for months been delaying whether to keep its headquarters in the UK because of the “political turbulence” caused by quitting the European Union. 

Its chief executive, Paul Polman, has insisted that “Brexit is not a factor” in the headquarter decision, but has said the UK moving to World Trade Organisation rules following leaving the  would be the “worst case scenario” and “a real shame”. 

Earlier this month, the maker of Knorr soup and Dove soap said talks with both governments were progressing and that it expected to come to a decision by the end of the current quarter.

Unilever has already said it favours changing its current dual-listed structure which gives it headquarters in Britain and the Netherlands.

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: “The government remains in regular contact with Unilever and we will continue to work with them during this process

“Through our recently published industrial strategy, we are working with companies across the UK to create an environment where businesses can thrive.”