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Shell’s CEO Crowns Himself King of the Buyback Bonanza, Sidesteps the Acquisition Arms Race

Posted by John Donovan: 2 November 2023

As the world gasps in the shadow of climate calamity, Shell CEO, Wael Sawan, has emerged from the shadows, not with a plan to save the planet, but with a scheme to shower shareholders with more silver. In a dazzling display of financial acrobatics, Shell is turning its back on the charm of ‘mega acquisitions’ to play a solo game of Monopoly with its windfall profits.

Sawan, with the finesse of a Vegas high-roller, has bet big on a ‘buyback bonanza’ to keep the cash registers ringing for those with stakes in the game, prioritizing a hefty $3.5 billion repurchase raffle ticket for the next quarter.

All this fiscal revelry follows a $6.2 billion quarterly earnings fiesta, which, while a notch down from last year’s dizzying heights, still beats the drum louder than in 2021. As Sawan struts to the tune of ‘financial performance’ with a simplified, oil-and-gas-heavy dance card, Shell’s low-carbon ventures whimper in the corner, nursing their losses.

While rivals like BP and Equinor lick their wounds from offshore wind investments gone sour, Shell’s skipper boasts of “minor impairments” and a picky palate for projects, steering clear of the writedown whirlpool – for now. But let’s not forget the belle of the ball, Shell’s integrated gas division, which, despite a production waltz that’s missing a few steps, still charmed its way to $2.5 billion in earnings.

And in a world increasingly hungry for green solutions, Shell teases us with tidbits like an EV supercharger hub in China and biofuel binges in Brazil. But with the grand vision of becoming a ‘multi-energy vector company,’ we’re left wondering if it’s just another act in the grand theatre of corporate greenwashing. 

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