(until 1973, United Africa Company), a British trading and industrial company; a subsidiary of the British-Dutch monopoly Unilever (seeFOOD MONOPOLIES).
Founded in 1929 as a colonial company specializing in the African trade, the United Africa Company soon created an extensive network of trading posts in many African countries; it owned vast plantations of tropical crops, as well as enterprises for the primary processing of the crops and for the procurement of timber. In some countries, notably Nigeria, it assumed a dominant position in the economy. The development of the national liberation movement undermined the company’s position and compelled it to change its mode of expansion in Africa; at this time the company began establishing branches and enterprises in other countries.
In the mid–1970’s, UAC International’s activities encompassed trade in medicines, food products, radio and electrical appliances, motor vehicles and spare parts, and building materials; it procured and processed timber in such countries as Nigeria and Indonesia and produced textiles and packaging materials. In 1975 the company had 126 branches in 22 African countries, including 33 in Nigeria and 14 in Ghana; there were branches in such countries as Great Britain, the Federal Republic of Germany, Belgium, and France. Sales in that year totaled £784 million.