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Pensions&Investments: Royal Dutch Shell, European investors settle

Royal Dutch Shell PLC and a group of 50 European investors, including the $230 billion Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP, agreed to a settlement of almost $455 million over claims that Shell overstated its proven oil and gas reserves from 1997-2003, according to Jay W. Eisenhofer, managing partner of the law firm of Grant & Eisenhofer, which represents the group, and a company filing with the SEC.

Royal Dutch Shell did not admit any wrongdoing as part of the settlement, according to the SEC filing.

The settlement, which will be paid to all European investors who bought shares in the company during the period, consists of a cash payment by Shell of $358.85 million and an additional $96 million paid to the SEC as part of a consent agreement, as well as expenses and attorney fees, bringing the total to $454.85 million, Mr. Eisenhofer said in an interview.

The group will present the class-wide settlement agreement to the Court of Appeals in Amsterdam for its approval. A hearing date hasn’t been scheduled.

“Shell intends to offer the same proportional settlement to investors in the U.S., provided the U.S. court overseeing the case approves,” the filing said.

The European settlement is contingent on Judge Joel A. Pisano of U.S. District Court in Trenton, N.J., ruling not to include claims against Royal Dutch Shell brought by non-U.S. resident investors who purchased Shell stock on European exchanges, the statement said. A hearing is scheduled for June 15. “If the U.S. court retains jurisdiction over these investors, the settlement will be null and void,” the statement said. “If, however, the court decides not to exercise jurisdiction over non-U.S. shareholders, then the announced settlement in the Netherlands becomes effective.”

Posted: April 11, 2007, 4:06 PM EST

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