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Score of Shell

Financial Times: Score of Shell

Jun 29, 2004

The main theatre in the Dutch seaside resort of Scheveningen had on offer the Disney musical The Lion King. But Royal Dutch/Shell shareholders who attended yesterday’s delayed annual meeting there were treated to a rather less uplifting performance, as directors of the embattled oil giant struggled to answer some of their more critical comments.

Still, as in all good shows, the script had been carefully written ahead of time. The refrain took the form of proxy votes of approval, which management had gathered beforehand.

So while attendees voted by a three-to-one margin against the board members’ handling of Shell last year, the directors overall received a three-to-two vote of confidence thanks to all those proxy votes.

Chairman Jeroen van der Veer said he had been in touch with institutional investors ahead of the meeting to garner their support. “We realised that it would be a pretty close vote but it [the outcome] was not a surprise to me,” he said.

At least nobody can accuse Shell of not providing plenty of other surprises in this year’s storyline.

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