UK, Netherlands lobby for Unilever HQ

Unilever is expected to decide on the location of its headquarters within the next couple of weeks, with the UK government bracing for the company to pick the Netherlands over the UK.

Unilever chief Paul Polman earlier this month said the group was likely to complete its review into where to house its legal base by the end of the first quarter.

It is now thought that a decision would likely be taken during the second week of March, at its next scheduled board meeting, although no decision has yet been taken.

Meanwhile, both the UK and Dutch governments are keenly trying to win over the manufacturer.

Last year, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte offered to cut corporation tax and abolish a tax on dividends for the company, while the UK's department for business, energy and industrial strategy confirmed that it was "in regular contact with Unilever and we will continue to work with them during this process".

It added that it was working with companies to create an "environment where businesses can thrive". Unilever exports around €1bn (£875m) worth of the products it makes in the UK. This amounts to a third of its UK production.

Meanwhile, The Times reported that business secretary Greg Clark , is working frantically to prevent Unilever choosing the Netherlands over the UK for its new headquarters.

Clark and Alex Chisholm, the permanent secretary in his department, have held talks with Unilever. Clark has met them ''a lot of times'', The Times reported, citing a government source.

The two men have been optimistic about the outcome of the discussions, and have emphasised that Unilever has not made a final decision.

Meanwhile, Unilever pledged to review its dual legal structure and stock market listing in the UK and the Netherlands last year after a surprise £115 billion takeover approach by Kraft Heinz.

The company is listed both in London and in the Netherlands since UK soapmaker Lever Brothers merged with Margarine Unie, a Dutch spread maker, in 1930.

Under its dual structure, the company has two boards with the same members, two sets of corporate laws and two sets of shareholders.