Unilever is a multinational corporation, formed of British and Dutch parentage, that owns many of the world's consumer product brands in foods, beverages, cleaning agents and personal care products. Unilever employed 174,000 people and had worldwide revenue of €40.5 billion in 2008.
Unilever is a dual-listed company consisting of Unilever NV in Rotterdam, The Netherlands and Unilever PLC in London, United Kingdom. This arrangement is similar to that of Reed Elsevier, and that of Royal Dutch Shell prior to their unified structure. Both Unilever companies have the same directors and effectively operate as a single business. The current non-executive Chairman of Unilever N.V. and PLC is Michael Treschow while Paul Polman is Group Chief Executive.
History of Unilever
Unilever was created in 1930 by the amalgamation of the operations of British soapmaker Lever Brothers and Dutch margarine producer Margarine Unie, a merger as palm oil was a major raw material for both margarines and soaps and could be imported more efficiently in larger quantities.
In the 1930s the business of Unilever grew and new ventures were launched in Latin America. In 1972 Unilever purchased A&W Restaurants' Canadian division but sold its shares through a management buyout to former A&W Food Services of Canada CEO Jeffrey Mooney in July 1996. By 1980 soap and edible fats contributed just 40% of profits, compared with an original 90%. In 1984 the company bought the brand Brooke Bond (maker of PG Tips tea).
In 1987 Unilever strengthened its position in the world skin care market by acquiring Chesebrough-Ponds, the maker of Ragú, Pond's, Aqua-Net, Cutex Nail Polish, and Vaseline. In 1989 Unilever bought Calvin Klein Cosmetics, Fabergé, and Elizabeth Arden, but the latter was later sold (in 2000) to FFI Fragrances.
In 1996 Unilever purchased Helene Curtis Industries, giving the company "a powerful new presence in the United States shampoo