Unilever this year defeated a takeover bid from American rival Kraft. But the episode has prompted questions over the Anglo-Dutch group’s ability to maintain its much-envied sustainable business model.
“Don’t talk, but clean.” Unilever chief executive Paul Polman likes to quote this apparently well-known Dutch proverb to explain how his company headed off an opportunistic $143bn takeover approach from American groceries giant Kraft Heinz in February.
Maybe there’s something lost in translation. Polman admitted as much after the event, settling on “let’s just deliver” as his battle cry and crediting his “Calvinist Dutch approach” for allowing the company’s actions to do the talking.
It’s not what was expected from a man best-known for his passionate communication of the importance of sustainable development and a sens
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