Chapter 3: BAC BV: the successful exit of a Unilever spin-out
At the end of the nineteenth century, William Lever created Sunlight Soap with the goal of making hygiene universally available. In the early twentieth century, Lever’s company joined together with several other manufacturers to form an industrial combination that would eventually result in a merger and form the seeds of the Unilever Company. The goals of promoting health and home and personal care, along with producing healthy foodstuffs, still form the core of the company’s activities in 2014. John Coombs joined Unilever as a management trainee in their engineer trainee programme. His career at Unilever grew – through engineering, factory management and consumer marketing – until in 2001 he learned that Unilever was talking about setting up a venture capital business. Coombs volunteered to design that business, together with a small team, and eventually became Managing Director of Unilever Ventures Europe.
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