08 November 2006
UNILEVER AGREES SETTLEMENT
Rotterdam, 8 November 2006 - Unilever N.V. today announced that it has agreed a
settlement with the main parties in the legal dispute over its 1999 Unilever
N.V. Preference Shares. These parties, with whom constructive talks have been
held, include the Dutch Shareholders Association, VEB, and several institutional
Unilever N.V. will pay an amount of €1.38 (plus interest of €0.16) compensation
per Preference Share held at the beginning of 24 March 2004, the day on which
Unilever N.V. announced its intention to convert the Preference Shares into N.V.
Ordinary Shares. Unilever N.V. also agreed to reimburse the VEB and the other
parties who initiated the Enterprise Chamber procedure for costs and expenses.
The agreement is subject to the requirement that all Preference Shareholders who
requested the Enterprise Chamber of the Amsterdam Court of Appeal to order an
inquiry join in the agreement. It also includes a term that the signatories
will no longer take legal action against Unilever.
The offer will be extended to all those other former Preference Shareholders who
held Preference Shares at the beginning of 24 March 2004.
Payment is expected to be made as from 1 February 2007.
The settlement follows publication on 8 September 2006 of the report of the
investigators appointed by the Enterprise Chamber. The criticisms made in the
report related to communications but did not extend to Unilever's decision to
convert the Preference Shares into Ordinary Shares in 2004 which was
acknowledged to be correct.
The Unilever Board set up a Board Committee composed of independent
non-executive Board members and chaired by Professor Wim Dik to deal with the
matter. The Committee, which was supported by external legal advisers,
considered the matter carefully and recommended that the Unilever Board settle
the dispute with those who held the Preference Shares at the beginning of 24
The Board agreed with the recommendation, concluding, without any admission of
liability, that it is in the best interest of Unilever and its shareholders to
settle this issue rather than enter into potentially lengthy and uncertain
It cannot be excluded that, notwithstanding this settlement agreement, other
former Preference Shareholders may still take legal action. If so, Unilever is
confident about the strength of its legal position vis-a-vis those parties.
Unilever previously announced a provision of €300 million for possible
compensation along with its Q3 results.
This announcement today does not yet constitute an offer to the eligible former
Preference Shareholders. The offer, including further details such as
information on the duration of the offer and other conditions, will be made
public in the short term.
- - - - - -
SAFE HARBOUR STATEMENT: This announcement may contain forward-looking
statements, including 'forward-looking statements' within the meaning of the
United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as '
expects', 'anticipates', 'intends' or the negative of these terms and other
similar expressions of future performance or results and their negatives are
intended to identify such forward-looking statements. These forward-looking
statements are based upon current expectations and assumptions regarding
anticipated developments and other factors affecting the Group. They are not
historical facts, nor are they guarantees of future performance. Because these
forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, there are important
factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those
expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements, including, among
others, competitive pricing and activities, consumption levels, costs, the
ability to maintain and manage key customer relationships and supply chain
sources, currency values, interest rates, the ability to integrate acquisitions
and complete planned divestitures, physical risks, environmental risks, the
ability to manage regulatory, tax and legal matters and resolve pending matters
within current estimates, legislative, fiscal and regulatory developments,
political, economic and social conditions in the geographic markets where the
Group operates and new or changed priorities of the Boards. Further details of
potential risks and uncertainties affecting the Group are described in the
Group's filings with the London Stock Exchange, Euronext Amsterdam and the US
Securities and Exchange Commission, including the Annual Report & Accounts on
Form 20-F. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this
announcement. Except as required by any applicable law or regulation, the Group
expressly disclaims any obligation or undertaking to release publicly any
updates or revisions to any forward-looking statements contained herein to
reflect any change in the Group's expectations with regard thereto or any change
in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based.
This information is provided by RNS
The company news service from the London Stock Exchange