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Remainers proved wrong as Shell boss hints at switching HQ from Netherlands to London

Remainers proved wrong as Shell boss hints at switching HQ from Netherlands to London

OIL giant Royal Dutch Shell could relocate its headquarters from the Netherlands to the UK in a post-Brexit boost for the country.

Ben van Beurden, Shell’s chief executive, hinted the company is seeking to simplify its complex capital structures. The potential move would be considered a significant victory for Britain in the months after quitting the European Union. Just last month Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods group, revealed it would merge its British and Dutch holding companies into one based in London.

Asked whether Shell could replicate Unilever, Mr van Beurden told Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad: “One always needs to keep thinking.

“Nothing is permanent and, of course, we take the investment climate into account.

“But moving your HQ is not a trivial measure, one should not be too easy about that.”

The oil giant is one of the largest listed companies in the UK, with a market capitalisation of £100 billion and more than 80,000 employees around the world.

It is currently incorporated in the UK while its headquarters remains in the Hague.

It has two types of shares traded in London and Amsterdam.

This is needed because the Netherlands levies a 15 percent dividend tax but the UK does not.

Shell initially chose the Hague as its base in the belief that the Dutch government would soon abolish the tax.

he complex dual capital structure is a target for overhaul by the company’s board in a bid to simply the company.

A Shell spokeswoman confirmed that the company had been investigating ways to simply its capital structure.

It was restructured in 2004, creating two types of shares – one for former Royal Dutch shareholders and the other for former UK shareholders of the Shell Trading Company.

Shell’s current structure has come under renewed scrutiny after the Dutch government tried to scrap the dividend tax as an incentive to convince Unilever to unify its dual structure in Rotterdam.

Prime minister Mark Rutte abandoned the plan after outcry over the tax cut, which was seen as a gift to rich foreigners.

Shell has consistently lobbied against the tax, which it says makes financing dividends, share buybacks and acquisitions more difficult.

Unilever’s decision to base itself in Britain after Brexit was seen as a victory by the Government.

The firm said its decision had nothing to do with Brexit, claiming it was because there was “slightly more liquidity’ in the stock in the country, an argument UK investors did not buy.

Responding to the news last month, Business Secretary Alok said: “Delighted to see Unilever’s proposals to become a fully incorporated UK company – a clear vote of confidence in the UK.”


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