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Shell board braced for revolt

Mail on Sunday: Shell board braced for revolt

Patrick Tooher,

27 June 2004

SHELL faces a major shareholder revolt at its annual meeting tomorrow that could see nine directors, including chairman Jeroen van der Veer, kicked off the Dutch half of the board at the embattled oil giant.

Institutional Shareholder Services, the world’s largest proxy voting agency, is urging clients to back a motion that amounts to a vote of no confidence in the Royal Dutch board over its handling of the oil reserves fiasco.

Financial Mail has established that Dutch investors who typically support incumbent management and have been blocking corporate reforms, own less than 15% of the shares.

That means international shareholders, who have been pushing for major changes in Shell’s antiquated corporate structure, hold considerable sway over Royal Dutch.

Their anger will be further fuelled by news that former chairman Sir Philip Watts, who quit in the wake of the scandal, has been given a pay-off worth just over £1 million.

At their meeting in The Hague, which is being held at the same time as Shell’s in London, shareholders will be asked to release directors from their legal liabilities for the past year.

The resolutions, a quirk of Dutch law, are normally nodded through. But this time a big protest vote is likely after Shell shocked investors by admitting earlier this year that it had overstated its reserves by more than 20%.

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