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Sunday Telegraph: Where’s Olly?: No one has seen Jorma Olilla since he took over as chairman of Royal Dutch Shell nine months ago

Business comment
By Sylvia Pfeifer, Deputy Business Editor, Sunday Telegraph

No one has seen Jorma Olilla, the former head of Nokia, since he took over as chairman of Royal Dutch Shell some nine months ago. The appointment of the Finnish entrepreneur, who transformed a little-known manufacturer of rubber boots and paper products into a household name, was greeted as a sign that the famously bureaucratic Anglo-Dutch oil giant was embracing a new era of openness.

He was an outsider, not British or Dutch, who would lead the company after the damaging reserves scandal that led to the departure of Shell’s three most senior executives and paved the way for the historic merger of its two subsidiaries. Some investors I spoke to last week were unhappy about his lack of communication with the City. He has held no meetings with shareholders since his appointment. The mood among investors is one of déjà-vu that Shell is returning to its old ways of keeping investors at arm’s length. More worryingly, the message that has come back so far is that Olilla doesn’t meet investors – instead, Lord Kerr, Shell’s likeable deputy chairman, who helped recruit Olilla, is put forward as a substitute.

City investors are no wallflowers and often huff and puff to little consequence. But in the case of Shell many felt severely let down during the reserves debacle and so feel strongly they should get a chance to meet the new chairman. Company insiders insist it is not a deliberate slight and that Olilla has been focusing on getting to know the business and Shell’s myriad geographic sites. Nevertheless, it would be a shame if the company, which under chief executive Jeroen van der Veer has done much to improve its relations with the City, should fail to capitalise on its opportunity for a fresh start. It’s time for the man from Nokia to start sending out the right signals.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2007/02/25/ccom25.xml

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