By Alfred Donovan
I am an avid reader of the postings on “Live Chat” and note the comments made today about “MMM” – this must refer to Mark Moody Stuart (now “Sir” Mark).
In view of the posted comments Shell insiders may be interested in the following extracts from leaflets we circulated at Shell HQ buildings in 1998. Judy Moody Stuart used to collect them on behalf of her husband and ended up writing to me with her comments. Lady Judy was so touched by my reply that she subsequently sent me a card at the start of one of our High Court actions against Shell wishing me well. I doubt that her husband shared her Christian good wishes. If anyone is interested, I will publish the correspondence.
Here I am, all these years later, still putting in a good word for Shell management…
Extracts from the leaflet entitled: “A DEEP DEPRESSION IS HANGING OVER SHELL TOWER”
The above comment appeared in The Daily Telegraph on 2nd April.
Never before has a multinational suffered so many reversals in such a short space of time. Shell’s financial reputation, status, and capital value, have all been severely diminished in less than a year.
BP was faced with precisely the same market conditions as Shell, but cleverly turned the situation to its advantage by capitalising on the depressed price of oil. In stark contrast, Shell’s antiquated “politburo” – the “CMD”, dithered, dallied, and danced the Macarena.
All of the debacles – the losses of £1bn a month, the abortive merger with Texaco, the fire sale of assets including landmark properties, and the relegation to third place, all occurred after Mr Moody-Stuart took command. You may recall that I first criticised his leadership qualities soon after the 1998 AGM.
I heard at first hand his up-beat speech, which gave not a hint of any impending financial meltdown at Shell. I compared his address to the “welcome aboard” speech given by the Captain of the Titanic. Many Shell employees probably thought I was mad.
I am sorry to say that the same leadership flaws that became apparent when I first crossed swords with Mr Moody-Stuart have contributed towards the current sad state of affairs.
Following our adverts in Time Magazine, the Shell Shareholders website has received record numbers of visits from international financial institutions, news media, PR consultants, ad agencies, Shell shareholders, and numerous oil companies, including BP. Our most frequent visitors are from Shell companies around the world. They too must be stunned at what we have to say.
Why has Mark Moody-Stuart got into such an incredible pickle? Potential merger partners such as Texaco and Chevron have almost certainly been put off by the fact that he has made a laughing stock of Shell by his failure to deal with us. He is unable to act because he does not want a McShell libel case, particularly when Shell lawyers know that we can substantiate our allegations of outright sleaze and corrupt business practices at Shell UK.
From the leaflet: “IS MR MARK MOODY-STUART A “GREEDY BAS***D”?”
In September I compared Mr Moody-Stuart with the Captain of the ill-fated Titanic. The recent devastating cuts and closures at Shell prove just how prophetic that comparison turned out to be.
It is all so far removed from the rosy press articles about Mr Moody-Stuart that coincided with his elevation to the top managerial post in the Royal Dutch/Shell Group. Shell’s PR people did a great job. It was almost as if the Pope had taken over from Mr Herkstroter.
Readers were informed in an FT article that “a strong religious ethic pervades his large family”… “Two sisters and his wife Judy are Quakers”… “His brother runs Transparency International, a pressure group dedicated to more openness in public life and is the author of the book ‘Grand Corruption’…”
The imagery of a Shell Chairman with a high moral background was reinforced by the emphatic pronouncements made by Mr Moody-Stuart about his absolute commitment to Shell’s Statement of General Business Principles. He said that the principles, which include fairness and respect for people, were “non-contestable and non-negotiable”. Impressive stuff. He appeared to be seeking Sainthood, rather than the mere Knighthood achieved by his predecessor. Is Mr Moody-Stuart genuinely someone of exceptional moral fibre, or just another selfish, ruthless, corporate “Fat Cat”?
An emphatic answer was provided by an executive pay survey published in the Sunday Times on 25th October 1998. It stated that Mr Moody-Stuart is overpaid by a massive £568,887 per annum. The latest bout of “downsizing” will have the happy effect of generating even more share incentive, bonus etc. for him and his colleagues. How on earth can this be morally justified? His hypocrisy is absolutely breathtaking. No wonder that John Edmonds, the President of the TUC Congress, recently described executive pay as the “politics of the pig trough”. Mr Moody-Stuart falls within Mr Edmonds description of “a greedy bastard”, as defined in the article.
Mr Moody-Stuart could recover some vestige of moral authority by ploughing back the £568,887 overpayment so that less Shell staff would need to be thrown onto the scrap heap. He could surely scrape by on the remaining £1.7 million per annum from his £2.2 million plus package.
According to the latest press statement, he now wants to move further and faster with the pace of “restructuring”. Comments that many Shell staff must have read with great trepidation. Shell cannot legitimately claim to have respect for people as a core principle when its own employees have to live in a climate of fear and uncertainty.
Unfortunately, from what I have seen, despite all of the PR inspired guff about Mr Moody-Stuarts lofty ideals, he only pays lip service to the principles set out in the STATEMENT. This is in stark contrast to his predecessor, who displayed a genuine desire to uphold them, even under difficult circumstances.
My interest in the integrity of Mr Moody-Stuart is simple. If he had been prepared to uphold Shell’s Statement of General Businesses Principles, then the problems my family has had with Shell UK would have been resolved long ago. In view of his ludicrously over-optimistic forecasts at the May AGM (when the financial icebergs were already on the horizon) and his abject failure to uphold Shell’s code of business principles, he should resign.
From the leaflet entitled: “A SLASH AND BURN” CULTURE AT SHELL”
An article in The Sunday Times published on 13th December mentioned that Mr Moody-Stuarts “onslaught on Shell’s bloated bureaucracy… will lead to more than 3,000 job losses”. They described his plans as: “a slash and burn culture at Shell”. It said that his ideas have put him at odds with Dutch colleagues. This was but one of the many press reports over recent days speculating on Shell’s current turbulent circumstances.
The “Market Report” column in The Express published on 10th December said: “Shell recently unveiled third quarter figures which were arguably the worst results in its history”.
So what does Mr Moody-Stuart make of the current situation. Amazingly, according to an article in The Daily Telegraph on 11th December he was said to have been in “an ebullient mood” when he addressed senior executives the previous day, urging his audience to “let’s go out and get’em”. Perhaps he was urging them to throw more Shell employees on the scrap heap.
So, despite oil prices dropping below $10 a barrel; reports of thousands of Shell employees being made redundant; Shell HQ buildings being sold off; the worst financial results in Shell’s history; Shell’s share price plummeting by 20% this year; Exxon and BP’s market capitalisation soaring whilst Shell’s has fallen, he remains in good spirits. Next thing, he’ll be dancing the “Macarena” again. I don’t know what he is on, but I would like to get the franchise to bottle and sell it. If I was getting over £42,000 per week, perhaps I would retain a sunny disposition.
A Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year to all at Shell, with special thoughts for those being made redundant.
END OF EXTRACTS
What a pity no one listened to our warnings. Moody-Stuart was busy at the time setting up his now infamous hydrocarbon “value creation teams” to conjure up reserves which did not exist. We all know what followed: the reserves fraud, the total destruction of Shell’s reputation and the end of The “Shell” Transport and Trading Company Plc in its former guise.
With regards to Shell’s Statement of General Business Principles, Shell International General Counsel, Richard Wiseman, has confirmed in writing to me that the SGBP was not drafted for use in the courts. In other words, they have always been a worthless sham drafted by con-artists to fool investors and other Shell stakeholders into believing that Shell management always acts faithfully within the bounds of the SGBP ethical code. If it had, a number of individuals would still be alive (e.g. Ken Saro Wiwa, the victims in the Brent Bravo tragedy) and none of the other scandals and debacles which have ruined Shell’s reputation would have occurred.