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Article by former Shell Exec Paddy Briggs: Another Shell “Business Principle” bites the dust

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Another Shell “Business Principle” bites the dust

Shell always claimed (but see below) that it did not make political donations – looks like at least this lie is to be withdrawn if following resolution is passed at the AGM:

Resolution 12

That, in accordance with Section 366 of the Companies Act 2006 and in substitution for any previous authorities given to the Company (and its subsidiaries), the Company (and all companies that are subsidiaries of the Company at any time during the period for which this resolution has effect) be authorised to:

(A) make political donations to political organisations other than political parties not exceeding £200,000 in total per annum;

(B) incur political expenditure not exceeding £200,000 in total per annum,

during the period beginning with the date of the passing of this resolution and ending on August 19, 2009 or, if earlier, at the conclusion of the next Annual General Meeting of the Company.
In this resolution, the terms “political expenditure” have the meanings given to them by Sections 363 to 365 of the Companies Act 2006.


In general, as far as I know, Shell does not make political donations but the exception was in the United States. I remember visiting one of Shell’s lobbyists in Houston some years ago. He was a full time Shell employee, not a third party, and his home was full of memorabilia of the Bush family. Pictures of George Bush senior and Barbara and of the sons, including, of course, the present President.

I naturally asked about this very prominent display and was told how close Shell Oil people in Houston were to the Bushes. “Pity you can’t help their election campaigns” I said cheekily. “What makes you think that?” my host replied. He then went on to explain that although direct contributions to the Republican Party were not made there were many donations to “political organisations” which in turn helped the Republicans – and the Bushes. I thought at the time that this was a sneaky avoidance of the Shell Business Principle that political party donations were not made and said so. Little effect it had of course!

Seems like this “anomaly” is now being corrected – do I spot the dead hand of the lawyers again?

© Paddy Briggs
May 2008

About Paddy

Paddy Briggs worked for Shell for 37 years during the last fifteen of which he was responsible for Brand management in a number of appointments. He was the winner of the Shell/Economist writing prize (internal) in 2001. Paddy retired from Shell in 2002 to form the brand consultancy BrandAware and to write and speak on brand and reputation matters. He is also active as a director of training courses on brand and reputation management. Paddy is also a sports journalist and a member of the “Sports Journalists Association” and the “Cricket Writers’ Club”. He has had weekly columns in the “Bahrain Tribune”, the “Khaleej Times”, the “Emirates Evening Post” and Ameinfo. Paddy’s book of light verse “Jumeira Jane” was published in Dubai in 2001 and the first edition print run of 5000 copies was sold out.

Paddy Briggs website: and its also non-profit sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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