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Chairman who wanted Marmite maker Unilever to leave London HQ resigns

By August Graham, PA City Reporter

Unilever’s chairman Marijn Dekkers will step down from his position with immediate effect a year after he U-turned on a decision to move the company to Rotterdam.

Dr Dekkers, 62, said he wants to be able to spend more time with Novalis LifeSciences, an investment business he founded and also chairs.

The Dutch businessman, who will stay on Unilever’s board, hands over the reins at the consumer goods company to Nils Andersen, a director since 2015.

He was criticised by shareholders last year for moving the Marmite maker’s headquarters away from London, being accused of not listening to outside advice.

The board was later forced to reverse the decision, which would have ended its dual office structure in London and Rotterdam.

Mr Andersen is a veteran of Danish industry, having led both shipping giant AP Moller-Maersk and brewer Carlsberg.

The added responsibility means the Dane plans to step down from his positions on the boards of BP and Salling Group, a private company, in March, ahead of Unilever’s annual shareholder meeting.

However, he is likely to continue as the chairman of Dutch paints and chemicals giant AkzoNobel.

Dr Dekkers said it was a “huge honour” to have been chairman of Unilever.

“I am very proud of the work we continue to do as a truly purpose-driven company. My decision to step down has been a difficult one to make but I look forward to seeing Unilever go from strength to strength under Nils as chairman,” he said.

The Dutchman was the chief executive of chemicals giant Bayer until 2016, when he retired and became chairman of Unilever.

After earning a PhD from the University of Eindhoven, Dr Dekkers started as a research scientist at General Electric in the US, where he stayed for a decade.

He is a former board member of General Electric in the United States.

Mr Andersen said: “I am very proud to have been asked to succeed Marijn and I look forward to working with the board and the Unilever leadership team to support the company’s continued growth.”