Unilever has received the report concerning its 1999 Dutch preference shares from investigators appointed by the Enterprise Chamber of the Amsterdam Court of Appeal to study the issue.

The investigators criticised Unilever’s communications with regard to the preference shares. Unilever said it took the criticism seriously, and put it down to different interpretations of facts.

The report did not criticise Unilever’s decision to issue the preference shares in 1999, or convert these into ordinary shares in 2004. It also said that Unilever had not committed itself to buying back the preference shares, as alleged by some preference shareholders.

Unilever said it would defend itself should the shareholder issue be progressed in further proceedings.

The company’s board has set up a special board committee to deal with the matter, composed of independent non-executive board members and chaired by Professor Wim Dik.

According to Unilever, the preference shares, issued at the time of the company’s 1999 special dividend payment, were intended to be issued to offer a tax-efficient alternative to a cash dividend for its Dutch private shareholders, having been approved at the company’s 1999 AGM.