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Shell tries ‘getting to know you’ ploy to woo rebels

Daily Telegraph: Shell tries ‘getting to know you’ ploy to woo rebels

“The news comes after a number of high-profile City names emerged last week to vent their anger about the shake-up, which will leave them with a multi-million pound tax bill.”

Wednesday 17 August 2005

By Christopher Hope (Filed: 17/08/2005)

Shell has asked for rebel investors in Royal Dutch Petroleum to provide details of their “characteristics” as the oil and gas giant seeks to tidy up its multi-billion pound restructuring.

The news comes after a number of high-profile City names emerged last week to vent their anger about the shake-up, which will leave them with a multi-million pound tax bill.

The Anglo-Dutch company is seeking ways to persuade a stubborn rump controlling 1.3pc of the shares to accept the terms of the merger with Shell Transport and Trading to create Royal Dutch Shell.

The Association of Private Client Investment Managers and Stockbrokers revealed yesterday that Shell has asked for details of the type of investor affected by the changes.

In a letter to her members, Angela Knight, chief executive of APCIMS, said: “Shell have asked us if we can provide them with information on the ‘characteristics’ of those who have retained their Royal Dutch shareholding.

“By characteristics they mean numbers of individuals and size of shareholder, and any other relevant information of which the approximate tax consequences, personal consequence and age of the individual could be appropriate.”

APCIMS is hoping to provide the information about the investors to Shell at a meeting in two weeks’ time.

The request for information marks a further shift in Shell’s attitude towards the investors. Previously Shell has insisted it has no idea how many British holders would be affected while officials have briefed that they were badly advised to own Royal Dutch stock, rather than shares in Shell Transport.

Ms Knight added: “Shell now knows that these shareholders are not just small investors who are ignorant of financial realities. They are serious people who have a very real demand for a more appropriate proposition.”

A number of high profile City figures, including David Hunter, a director of Smith & Williamson Investment Management, and Peter Buckley, the chairman of Caledonia Investments, have said they have refused to accept the terms of the merger.

Ahead of the merger, APCIMS estimated that as many as 3,000 British holders, with a combined stake worth £192m, would be left with a £77m capital gains tax bill as a result.

The request for the information was made at a meeting with APCIMS attended by Pat Ellingsworth, Shell’s head of tax, Douglas Wood, its reunification project manager, and Ingrid Tierley, investor relations, late last week.

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