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Daily Mail: Rumours of Watts departure lifts Shell

By Geoff Foster

22 January 2004

RUMOURS were rife that Sir Philip Watts might make a sudden departure. The chairman of Shell has never been everyone’s cup of tea. He further blotted his copybook by failing to turn up to answer analysts’ and investors’ questions about the oil giant’s shock admission that it has cut its proven reserve estimates by 20%.

Some £3bn was wiped off its share price, but Sir Philip was nowhere to be seen.

Shell firmed 4 1/4p to 365 1/2p yesterday on hefty turnover of 73m as dealers heard that major shareholder Legal & General was pressing for a change. Some suggested his departure could even be confirmed when the group reports annual results on 6 February. If not then, the word is that April’s AGM will certainly be his last.

Sir Philip took a lot of flak after shelling out £3.5bn for Enterprise Oil in April 2002. His chairmanship is due to run until mid-2005, but some investors and fund managers – disappointed by poor production and reserves growth – now believe he should not go the distance.

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