Brexit: NI protocol issue could negatively affect Irish economy
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The proposal will be put to shareholders at the firm’s annual general meeting on the 10th December and will also see chief executive Ben van Beurden relocate to the UK. As part of a major overhaul of the company’s structure, Shell will drop “Royal Dutch” from its full official name and be simply known as Shell going forwards. The relocation is part of wider plans to simplify the company’s structure including having one single class of shares instead of two. Sir Andrew Mackenzie, Shell’s chairman, said: “The simplification is designed to strengthen Shell’s competitiveness and accelerate both shareholder distributions and the delivery of its strategy to become a net zero emissions business. The current complex share structure is subject to constraints and may not be sustainable in the long term.”
Once the move is complete Shell’s tax residence will also move to the UK along with many senior employees.
Board meetings will also take place in the UK.
Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng welcomed the announcement as “a clear vote of confidence in the British economy.”
The news seems well received by investors so far with share prices jumping around two percent this morning.
Laura Hoy, Equity Analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown said: “Ultimately, the new structure would be a net positive for shareholders as it will streamline the company and make it easier to manoeuvre moving forward.”
AJ Bell Investment Director Russ Mould added: ““The London market was bolstered by the news Royal Dutch Shell is casting off its dual-share structure but unlike BHP and Unilever is not threatening divorce and has instead committed itself to the UK and remaining in the FTSE 100 index.”
Unilever, like Shell, previously abandoned its dual Anglo-Dutch structure eventually picking London as its base after a controversial proposal to move to Rotterdam.
Mr Mould explained there were a number of factors behind Shell’s decision including lower costs, greater flexibility and speed of movement adding “Shell has long chafed against the 15% withholding tax which applies in the Netherlands.”
The Dutch government however have been less pleased saying it was “unpleasantly surprised” by the news.
Dutch economic affairs and climate minister Stef Blok added: “We are in a dialogue with the management of Shell over the consequences of this plan for jobs, crucial investment decisions and sustainability.”
Shell added that it remained “proud of its Anglo-Dutch heritage” stating that it would continue to be a significant employer in the Netherlands.
Sections of the business that will remain there include the Shell’s Projects and Technology division and its renewable energies hub.
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Shell has recently come under pressure from US activist investor Third Point who has been calling for the company to split into two with a new company focused on renewables.
However Mr Mould said: “There is no hint of any plan to break up Shell in the announcement.
“In theory a simpler shareholder structure which permits great speed of movement could help management enact such a plan more smoothly but there is no indication of a desire to go down this route.”
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