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Dutch are ready if push comes to squeeze

Daily Telegraph: Dutch are ready if push comes to squeeze

4 June 2005

Fancy a Dutch squeeze-out? Such things are common in Holland, and not only on stag weekends in Amsterdam’s Red Light district.

Minority shareholders in Royal Dutch Petroleum who fail to accept the plan to scrap Shell’s arcane dual structure may be about to feel the squeeze. Royal Dutch needs holders of 95pc of its shares to agree to complete the merger with Shell Transport & Trading, which is a tall order for such a widely held stock.

Curiously, the company is unworried. If it falls short, it can mount its Dutch squeeze-out, and force the minority to take cash for their holdings. It can threaten to suspend dividend payments to the recalcitrant few.

It might not come to this – Dutch law gives the company the right to lower the acceptance level if it’s only slightly short, and the minority should not be allowed to hold the enterprise to ransom. Besides, it would be a poor reward for Shell’s root-and-branch approach to reform, when the company’s history might have suggested another fudge was in order.

With any luck, Jeroen van “The Man” der Veer will have turned Shell’s famously opaque and introverted politburo into a conventional corporate structure before the end of the summer. It won’t be the end of Shell’s problems after it lost a quarter of its proven oil and gas reserves last year. But it will be the end of the beginning, and if it needs a Dutch squeeze-out, that’s just part of the fun.

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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