Depositary receipts are issued for approximately 80% of the Unilever N.V. ordinary shares and for approximately 34% of the Unilever N.V. 7% cumulative preference shares.
The depositary receipts for the Unilever N.V. ordinary shares (ISIN NL0000009355) are listed on Euronext Amsterdam. Though technically not correct, the depositary receipts are often referred to as Unilever N.V. ordinary shares. The Unilever N.V. ordinary shares (ISIN NL0000388619) are also listed on Euronext Amsterdam and in the form of New York Registry Shares on the New York Stock Exchange.
The depositary receipts for the Unilever N.V. 7% cumulative preference shares (ISIN NL0000388684) are only listed on Euronext Amsterdam, as are the 7% cumulative preference shares (ISIN NL0000388726).
Holders of depositary receipts can under all circumstances exchange their depositary receipts for the Unilever N.V. shares (or vice versa) in the form of registered shares, bearer shares or New York Registry Shares.
Holders of depositary receipts are fully entitled to dividends that are paid on the underlying shares held by the Foundation Unilever N.V. Trust Office.
Pursuant to an agreement with Unilever N.V. dividends will be paid directly to the holders of depositary receipts.
The purpose of issuance of depositary receipts for Unilever N.V. is to prevent a chance minority of shareholders from controlling the decision-making process as a result of absenteeism at a Unilever N.V. general meeting of shareholders. The attendance rates in the Unilever N.V. general meetings of shareholders are relatively low. During 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 less (excluding the shares held by the Foundation Unilever N.V. Trust Office) than respectively 44.1%, 43.3%, 51.03% and 46,91% of the ordinary shares were represented.
Another reason for the issuance of depositary receipts arrangements is that a substantial part (approximately 20%) of Unilever N.V.'s outstanding share capital is held in the form of preference financing shares, representing an economic value of less than 0.5% of Unilever N.V.'s outstanding share capital. The holders of these preference financing shares, however, may control approximately 20% of the votes in Unilever N.V.'s general meeting of shareholders. This disproportionate voting power creates a severe imbalance in the shareholders' meeting. By voting on a large number of Unilever N.V. (mainly: ordinary) shares, the Foundation Unilever N.V. Trust Office aims to counterweight this imbalance.