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SHELL shareholders have demanded that more heads roll

The Times: SHELL shareholders have demanded that more heads roll at the world’s third-largest oil company to regain investor confidence.: “The people who are in charge of Shell today … were there when these activities were going on and are still involved at the highest level…

25 August 2004

Several top Shell executives have already lost their jobs in the wake of numerous reserves downgrades this year.

A new board has promised to improve corporate governance. But a fund manager with control of more than 1 per cent of Shell’s shares, who declined to be named, said the company continued to be “steeped in a kind of civil service culture”.

“The people who are in charge of Shell today … were there when these activities were going on and are still involved at the highest level … They didn’t have the controls in place to stop this kind of thing happening,” he said. “I’m not sure that they can manage the business properly, to avoid similar problems in the future.”

The Association of British Insurers (ABI), which represents the bulk of the City’s largest institutional investors, said the settlement “reinforces the need for a review of corporate governance at the company, to deliver real accountability”.

Peter Montagnon, head of investment affairs at the ABI, said: “This (FSA report) is a very serious reprimand and a very serious conclusion.”

But other investors expressed confidence in the company’s internal review of corporate governance.

Andrew Tusa, the head of corporate governance at Deutsche Asset Management, which owns 1.73 per cent of Shell, said: “The company is doing everything it can to address our concerns.”

He said: “The company is managing to stay ahead of investors’ expectations, perhaps only marginally so, but it needs to be given the room to come up with its own answer to these management and governance issues.”

FINE THING: The SEC said last night that it did not know why its fine of $120 million (£65 million) was almost four times larger than the £17 million fine set by the FSA. But it insisted that the money would be used to compensate shareholders that lost money in the scandal. It said that it had not set a timetable for paying compensation.

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