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Andrew Moffat

Andrew Moffat suggests that shareholders should attend the AGMs of companies which are pro-euro, and protest.... This article appeared in the June 2001 issue of Sovereignty.

Many people will have been incensed to read about the pressure placed upon the Government by the Chief Executive of Unilever, Niall Fitzgerald. He is the top man of the "Britain in Europe" pressure group. Like Lords Marshall and Simon - and others - he is pressing hard for Britain to join the Euro. His views appeared in the press on the 12 June, especially in the Financial Times, and he suggested that Unilever might withdraw investment from Britain unless the Government started campaigning for the Euro with a view to entering it within the next two years.

Unilever is a large public company and a multinational corporation. Many of its shareholders, however, are based in the UK. Most of them (and in this bracket I include the end beneficiaries who are invested in pension plans, etc, through financial institutions), especially private shareholders, will take an opposing stance and hold strong opinions.

Many will argue that Niall Fitzgerald's task is to run his corporation - not to interfere in the workings of our elected British Government or to place political pressure thereon, via the media. Fitzgerald's allegiance to Britain and its interests may be questioned.

It is long overdue that the Niall Fitzgeralds who strut the international corporate stage - and who arguably wield more power and influence than cabinet ministers - and who attend international conferences and mix with what may be termed as "international power brokers", faced opposition.

Presently, they have a free hand and are answerable neither to the electorate nor their shareholders, the latter of whom have yet to provide them with any degree of opposition.

The success of such opposition may be gauged alongside the accomplishments of the Green lobby. An example might be Shell and their attempts to sink an oil platform off the North coast of Scotland.

a) Anti-EU shareholders of Unilever - and other such corporations - to be identified via an appeal. Such shareholders may hold shares directly in their own name or via "Nominees".

b) Such shareholders to be orchestrated and thoroughly appraised of the facts if they do not already know them.

c) These shareholders to make use of their right to attend the AGM - or to obtain an application card if they hold their shares in Nominees.

d) Shareholders then to commence a barrage of embarrassing questions and heckling at the AGM, which is usually attended by the press, PR consultants, institutions, etc. Shareholders may wish to enquire as to where Fitzgerald's allegiance lies, on what basis he speaks for the British people, whether he considers the nation state's disintegration to be a subservient matter in terms of the ability of Unilever to slosh British shareholder's cash around the globe, how much of the shareholders' cash is being donated to anti-British causes each year and so on.

Very substantial damage could be inflicted upon Fitzgerald if enough noise was created and if this became an annual feature of the AGM.

Indeed, Fitzgerald and others could be identified to the public at large as agents undermining the nation.

The Greens are now highly effective at this type of campaign. Merely one share is sufficient to attend an AGM and to vote.

A share in Unilever may be purchased for £5.70 or thereabouts from a "dealing only" stockbroker at a commission of around £10.

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