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Brexit success: Shell headquarter move shows Remoaner predictions are ‘other way around’

Brexit success: Shell headquarter move shows Remoaner predictions are ‘other way around’

OIL giant Shell is relocating its headquarters from the Netherlands to the UK, a move some are labelling as proof that Brexit is not synonymous with losing foreign business.


Shell has this week announced it was ready to sacrifice the designation “Royal” — from Royal Dutch Shell — to shift its tax residency from the EU to the UK. It already chose the country as its corporate base and primary stock market listing in 2005 but now, “despite Brexit“, the British-Dutch multinational will call London its only home.

Shell’s decision to divide its presence between the UK and the Netherlands nearly two decades ago came after it combined Koninklijke Nederlandsche Petroleum Maatschappij and The Shell Transport and Trading Company.

Being a tax-resident and headquartered in the Hague pushed Shell to opt for a dual-class structure that allowed it to issue A shares for investors in the Netherlands while the non-Dutch ones received B shares – all to avoid hitting the latter with the Netherlands’ withholding tax.

The company’s departure from the Netherlands echoes Unilever’s decision last year to locate its head office in the UK.

Matthew Lynn pointed out on The Spectator: “It was confidently predicted after the 2016 referendum that businesses such as those would relocate 100 percent to the Netherlands.

“After all, why stay in tiny isolated Britain?

“In the Netherlands, the decision has already provoked consternation, where the government described it as an ‘unwelcome surprise’.

“Who knows, perhaps Ursula von der Leyen is already planning sanctions in response. And will President Macron be sending troops of customs officials to Calais to bring the troublesome British to heel?”

Shell’s move, however, is likely to be linked to a recent court ruling rather than to Brexit – and Mr Lynn acknowledged that.

In May, it was ruled the company must slash annual emissions — its own and those of its suppliers — by 45 percent by 2030 compared to 2019 levels.

This was a huge win for environmental campaigners – to start with, for Friends of the Earth (FoE), who alongside six other bodies and the support of more than 17,000 Dutch citizens brought the case to court.

For Shell, it was nothing to be celebrated.

A spokesperson, while emphasising they are stepping up efforts to cut emissions, said at the time they “fully expect to appeal today’s disappointing court decision”.

The court’s decision only applies in the Netherlands but the oil giant said it will slash emissions regardless of where it is based.

Still, it is thought at least part of the reason to relocate is to do with the tight goal set by the Dutch court.

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