Who Owns Unilever?

Unilever is primarily owned by Unilever and its Associates, followed by foreign portfolio investors, individuals, and others. Unilever generated over €60 billion in revenue 2022, comprising many brands spanning beauty & wellbeing, personal care, home care, nutrition, and ice cream.

In 2020, Unilever reported revenue of €50.72 billion. The company’s revenue increased in 2021, reaching a total of €52.44 billion. Unilever experienced significant revenue growth in 2022, with total revenue amounting to €60.07 billion.
In 2020, Unilever reported a net profit of €6.07 billion. The company’s net profit increased in 2021, reaching a total of €6.62 billion. Unilever experienced significant growth in net profit in 2022, with total net profit amounting to €8.27 billion.


Unilever is the result of a merger between Lever Brothers, a British soapmaker, and Margarine Unie, a Dutch company.

The merger took place in 1929, and the company was formed as a portmanteau of the two entities.

Early Acquisitions

Unilever wasted no time in making its first acquisitions of trade companies in Africa.

In 1943, it acquired T. J. Lipton, Batchelors Peas (a vegetable canner), and a majority stake in Frosted Foods, the owner of Birds Eye.


In the 1950s, Unilever capitalized on the rapid development of new markets for consumer-packaged goods, especially in Africa and Asia.

It launched billion-dollar brands such as Sunsilk (1954) and Dove (1957).

Due to increased competition and a sluggish butter and margarine market, Unilever diversified into other products.

Acquisitions in the 1970s

Unilever acquired Lipton International in 1971, becoming one of the largest tea businesses globally. In 1978, it acquired National Starch, an American manufacturer of adhesives, starch, and organic chemicals.

Acquisitions in the 1980s

Unilever continued to expand its portfolio with acquisitions such as the tea brand PG Tips (1984), beauty and health brand Chesebrough-Ponds (1986), and Calvin Klein Cosmetics, Fabergé, and Elizabeth Arden (1989).

Focus on Consumer Products

In 1997, Unilever sold its specialty chemicals business to concentrate on its consumer and household product ranges.

Major Acquisitions in the 2000s

Unilever made several significant acquisitions during this period. In 2000, it acquired Bestfoods for $24.3 billion, which added brands like Knorr, Bovril, and Hellmann’s to its portfolio.

The same year, Unilever acquired Ben & Jerry’s and Slim Fast. It also split into two divisions: one for home and one for personal care.

Acquisitions in the 2010s-present

Unilever continued its sustainable business model while acquiring new brands.

Some notable acquisitions include Alberto Culver (2010), Qinyuan (2014), Camay (2014), REN Skincare and Kate Somerville Skincare (2015), Dollar Shave Club (2016), Weis (2017), Tazo (2017), and Schmidt’s Naturals (2017).

Business Model

Unilever operates as a consumer goods company with a wide portfolio of brands spanning beauty & wellbeing, personal care, home care, nutrition, and ice cream.

The company’s business model focuses on sustainable and responsible practices.

Unilever aims to grow its business while reducing its environmental impact and increasing its positive social impact through various initiatives like reducing waste, promoting recycling, and supporting fair trade.

Recap of Ownership

Unilever is primarily owned by the company itself and its associates.

Additionally, the ownership includes foreign portfolio investors, individual shareholders, and other stakeholders.

Specific ownership percentages and details may vary based on changes in the company’s shareholding structure over time.

Key Takeaways:

  • Unilever is a multinational consumer goods company formed through a merger between Lever Brothers and Margarine Unie in 1929.
  • The company has a diverse portfolio of brands, covering various consumer categories like beauty, personal care, home care, nutrition, and ice cream.
  • Unilever has a history of strategic acquisitions to expand its product offerings and market presence.
  • The company focuses on sustainability and responsible business practices, aiming to reduce its environmental impact and support social causes.
  • Unilever has experienced consistent revenue and net profit growth over the years, showcasing its strong market presence and financial performance.

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