That’s another old chestnut ticked off global business’s to-do list. After General Electric Co. and Johnson & Johnson decided last week to break themselves up, oil major Royal Dutch Shell Plc is also taking an obvious long-standing idea from the shelf and turning it into action. Plans to scrap its Anglo-Dutch structure to coalesce around a U.K. domicile underscore the tremendous pressure this organization is under, and point to the power of taxation to guide corporate decision-making more generally.

Shell tried to simplify 16 years ago by merging its two founding firms: Royal Dutch Petroleum Company of the Netherlands and Shell Transport and Trading Company of the U.K. The unified company was U.K.-incorporated with its headquarters and tax residency in the Netherlands.

At the time, this convoluted arrangement appeased political sentiment in the U.K. and the Netherlands. But it has limited Shell’s room for maneuver.

Small wonder that activist Third Point LLC made optimizing the corporate structure number one on its wishlist revealed last month.

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