Shell Plans to Move HQ to UK

16.11.2021 - Shell has announced plans to scrap its dual share structure and move its headquarters from the Netherlands to the UK. The proposal will also see the energy giant lose its “Royal Dutch” prefix, becoming just Shell. It will, however, retain its listings in London, Amsterdam and New York.

The energy group, which has been incorporated in the UK but headquartered and registered in the Netherlands for tax purposes since 2005, is following in the footsteps of Unilever, another dual-structure Anglo-Dutch firm that relocated to London last year, as did data and information group RELX in 2017.

Analysts see the proposal as positive for shareholders, but the Dutch government said it was “unpleasantly surprised” by the announcement.

“The Cabinet regrets to the utmost that Shell wants to move its head office to the UK,” said Stef Blok, Dutch economic affairs and climate minister. “We are in talks with Shell over the consequences of this plan for jobs, crucial investment decisions and sustainability."

Unsurprisingly, UK secretary of state for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Kwasi Kwarteng welcomed the move, tweeting that it is “a clear vote of confidence in the British economy as we work to strengthen competitiveness, attract investment and create jobs.”

Shell said simplifying its share structure will strengthen its competitiveness and accelerate both shareholder distributions and the delivery of its strategy to become a net-zero emissions business. At the moment, shareholders can buy an A or a B share. By merging these share categories into each other, the company would be “simpler for investors to understand and value,” Shell said.

Shareholders will vote on the proposal at a meeting on Dec. 10. If approved, the change would take effect next year.

The company’s proposal comes a few months after a Dutch court ordered Shell to accelerate its plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions, a decision that Shell is appealing. The case against Shell was brought by NGO Milieudefensie, several other NGOs and more than 17,000 Dutch citizens, who had argued that Shell was not reducing emissions quickly enough and had a human rights obligation to bring its business into line with international climate change agreements.

Shell has also recently come under pressure from activist investor Third Point, which revealed in October that it had built up a large stake in the oil and petrochemicals group and urged it to split off its green energy business.

Author: Elaine Burridge, Freelance Journalist