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Unilever launches €3bn share buyback as mulls best method of tea spin-off

The consumer goods giant expects full-year sales to rise but markets remain volatile

Unilever PLC - Unilever to start €3bn share buyback programme, posts quarterly revenue growth

Unilever PLC (LON:ULVR) declared a quarterly dividend of 3.71p per share and will start a share buyback programme of up to €3bn next month, which the consumer products group said reflects strong cash flow delivery and balance sheet position.

The FTSE 100 giant said it is still deciding how to spin off its tea business later this year, whether by IPO, a demerger, a joint venture or disposal.

READ: Unilever to focus on growth in US, India, China

Another spinoff is in the works as well, as some smaller beauty and personal care brands which together generated turnover last year of €600mln, will go and operate under the name Elida Beauty.

Those parts of the group that are expected to remain generated revenue growth in the first quarter of 2021 as the Anglo-Dutch group continues to claw back the losses suffered last year.

Full-year sales growth in 2021 is expected to be within the multi-year framework of 3-5%, with the first half at around the top of this range.

Underlying operating margin is forecast to increase slightly in the full year, following a decline in the first half which is driven by COVID-19.

The pandemic continues to cause additional supply chain costs and a negative margin mix while commodity and freight costs have increased further.

Moreover, markets remain volatile as many continue to enter and exit lockdowns.

In the three months to 31 March, underlying sales advanced 5.7% to €12.3bn, with growth across the three segments – beauty and personal care, home care, foods and refreshment.

In North America and Europe continued to see strong demand for in home food, while most beauty and personal care categories remained subdued.

Conditions in China are normalising while India has recently returned to lockdowns due to a sharp rise in infections.

Markets grew in Latin America in the first quarter, despite macroeconomic conditions remaining volatile, and conditions in South East Asia remain challenging.

The Magnum and Persil owner is involved in investigations and cases by national competition authorities, including those within Italy, Greece, South Africa and Turkey.

These proceedings and investigations are at various stages and concern a variety of product markets and provisions will be paid accordingly, the firm said.

Quick facts: Unilever PLC

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