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Shell big investors in a revolutionary mood

Shell News, this day, 9 years ago: Shell investors were still in a state of shock over the dramatic disclosure that Shell had vastly overstated its proven oil and gas reserves. The main villain, the fraudster, Sir Philip Watts, was still Royal Dutch Shell Group Chairman. Lord Oxburgh was still backing him.

Daily Mail: Rebels demand shake-up at Shell

By Brian O’Connor,

23 January 2004

DISSIDENT Shell investors are seeking a shake-up in the complex structure of the board and its committees. One result may be that an outside chairman is appointed when Sir Philip Watts steps down.

This would be a revolution for Shell, but big investors are in a revolutionary mood.

Though most boards now have a full-time chief executive and a part-time chairman, the UK company Shell Transport has traditionally had an executive chairman. So too has its sister company Royal Dutch Petroleum.

A powerful committee of managing directors straddles both groups and is chaired by one of these two chairmen – currently Sir Philip.

Shell is famed for its committees. But outside investors are now adamant that something must change at the group.

Sir Philip defiantly set out his plans to present the 2003 results on 5 February. He will front a long session with the media and City analysts.

Shell recognises that big investors remain angry and this will be a crucial test. To complicate matters, Shell faces a demand for big tax repayments in Nigeria.

Big investors have sought a meeting with senior independent director Lord Oxburgh. Members of the Association of British Insurers, who own at least 25% of Shell Transport, have expressed their concern.

Oxburgh, 69, a distinguished scientist, appears to have resisted calls for change and has backed Sir Philip.

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