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Shell ‘to scrap dual board structure’

The Observer: Shell ‘to scrap dual board structure’

“Shell chief executive Jeroen van der Veer has accepted that the beleaguered Anglo-Dutch oil company must overhaul its complicated structure and introduce a single board, according to a key investor.”

Oliver Morgan, industrial correspondent

Sunday September 19, 2004

Shell chief executive Jeroen van der Veer has accepted that the beleaguered Anglo-Dutch oil company must overhaul its complicated structure and introduce a single board, according to a key investor.

Eric Knight is managing director of Knight Vinke Asset Management and was one of the most vocal critics of Shell’s management structure in the months after the oil company revealed it had over-booked its reserves. He now says he is satisfied van der Veer has decided to make the move.

Knight met Van der Veer at the beginning of August to discuss the company’s plans for an overhaul of the Byzantine structure that developed as a result of its dual nationality and listings in the UK and Holland. Other directors from both sides of the business are giving him the same message, he says.

Knight says: ‘I met him [van der Veer] in early August and got the sense from him – and from the others – that it is not a question of if but how.’

He added that discussions were now about what kind of structure would exist. The current arrangements comprise two operating companies, Royal Dutch, and Shell Transport and Trading, which own 60 per cent and 40 per cent respectively.

Royal Dutch has two boards, supervisory and management; Shell has one. In addition there is the executive committee of managing directors, which Van der Veer chairs.

Knight said there were a number of options for creating a more unified structure based on a single board and chief executive. However, it was unlikely that the dual listing structure or the ownership ratios would be altered.

The news comes before this week’s long-awaited strategy presentation by van der Veer. It is understood that the restructuring proposals will not form a part of the presentation, which is expected to focus on issues including the rate at which the more than 4 billion barrels of oil that have been declassified as proven reserves will be brought back on to Shell’s books.

Analysts are also expecting updates on the company’s capital expenditure plans, along with news on which projects and in which areas of the world money will be spent, and further details of proposals to buy back shares.

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/business/story/0,,1307668,00.html

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