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Shell ends era of dual ownership

THE TIMES (UK): Shell ends era of dual ownership

Wednesday June 29, 2005

By Peter Klinger

ROYAL DUTCH SHELL shareholders voted overwhelmingly yesterday in favour of plans to scrap the oil and gas giant’s dual-ownership structure, closing a century-old chapter in British corporate history.

The restructuring, supported by massive majorities at shareholder meetings in London and The Hague, will result in the formation of a unified Royal Dutch Shell, based in the Netherlands but with a main listing on the London Stock Exchange. The votes bring an end to London-based Shell Transport and Trading as a standalone company, established in the late 19th century.

Royal Dutch Shell hopes that the simplified structure — to replace the antiquated and investor-unfriendly set-up under which Royal Dutch owned 60 per cent of the global operating company and Shell Transport and Trading the remainder — will enable it to become more competitive.

Malcolm Brinded, Royal Dutch Shell’s exploration and production director, also flagged a new appetite for corporate deals. It is thought the revamped group could consider acquisitions worth as much as $9 billion (£4.9 billion).

The restructuring was greeted by angry protests from British small shareholders in Royal Dutch, who could now face capital gains tax bills totalling £77 million as a result of legal technicalities.

Advisory fees for the Shell overhaul are expected to reach $115 million. The group’s shares rose 17p to 545p.

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