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Royal Dutch Shell offers way out of £77m tax bill

The Times: Royal Dutch Shell offers way out of £77m tax bill

“ROYAL DUTCH SHELL, the newly unified oil and gas group, has moved to appease a small group of disgruntled British shareholders by proposing a way to avoid a £77 million tax bill.”

Wednesday 21 Sept 2005

By Peter Klinger

ROYAL DUTCH SHELL, the newly unified oil and gas group, has moved to appease a small group of disgruntled British shareholders by proposing a way to avoid a £77 million tax bill.

The Anglo-Dutch group said yesterday that it would buy out remaining shareholders in its Royal Dutch arm either with cash or by issuing a loan note. The loan note, particularly applicable to British-based owners of Royal Dutch shares, could be exchanged for new “A” shares in the company without incurring capital gains tax.

Although the unification of Royal Dutch’s Amsterdam and Shell’s London listings was universally applauded, about 3,000 British investors in Royal Dutch were left facing a combined tax bill of £77 million as a result of capital gains triggered by the unification’s structure. Shell pointed out that the deal was beneficial to most investors but continued to face criticism from the British investors.

The Association of Private Client Investment Managers and Stockbrokers, which had been fighting Shell on behalf of the investors, applauded the Shell decision yesterday and described it as “long overdue”.

The loan notes will have a face value equal to the cash payment alternative. Shell said that the loan note would provide “the ability to achieve a rollover for UK capital gains tax purposes”.

The proposal forms part of a broader clean-up of Shell’s complicated web of subsidiaries and will require shareholder approval at an extraordinary meeting before the end of the year. The unification of Shell’s British and Dutch arms was prompted by a scandal last year over oil and gas reserves.

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