Unilever is holding a board meeting on Wednesday afternoon where it is expected to vote on whether to choose Rotterdam over London as the base for a unified company.

The Anglo-Dutch company is poised to make an announcement on Thursday morning. UK government ministers have prepared themselves for the consumer good group to choose Rotterdam over London since last month.

Its impending decision threatens to unleash a political firestorm over Brexit and would be a blow to Theresa May at an acutely sensitive time in the British prime minister’s EU trade negotiations.

The producer of Marmite and Dove soap in the UK has said that whatever its decision, it will maintain listings in the Netherlands, the UK and the US. But if decides to become a Dutch company, that risks Unilever losing its FTSE 100 index status — unless a special exemption can be made.

Unilever already reports in euros, the Dutch NV holds 56 per cent of the ordinary shares and there trading volume is higher in the NV shares than the PLC.

The decision is also controversial because the Netherlands has stronger takeover protection rules than in the UK.

Unilever decided to simplify its legal structure last year after fighting off a $143bn takeover bid from Kraft Heinz of the US.

Paul Polman, chief executive, lobbied the UK government for a “level playing field” in takeover rules after the bid and Mrs May pledged in the Conservative party manifesto last year to review the rules but no formal changes have been made.

Unilever employs more than double the number of people in the UK than in the Netherlands — 7,500 and 3,000 — respectively, out of a total global workforce of 169,000 and has important research and development facilities in both countries.

The consumer goods group has one management team but two parent companies, involving headquarters in both Rotterdam and London and two separately-listed companies, an NV in the Netherlands and a UK-based PLC.

This unwieldy structure could hamper its room for corporate manoeuvre, it has said, including de-merging businesses or making a large acquisition with shares. A simplified unified company would be in the best interests of shareholders, it said last month and would reduce administrative burden.

Unilever’s dual identity stems from the 1929 merger between British soapmaker Lever Brothers with Dutch margarine producer, Margarine Unie, though Unilever sold its margarines business in December.

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