Shell wants to move headquarters amid cleaner energy shift

Nov 15, 2021, 3:43 AM | Updated: 2:25 pm

LONDON (AP) — Royal Dutch Shell proposed moving its headquarters from the Netherlands to the United Kingdom and streamlining its structure Monday in hopes of making it easier to move forward in a world transitioning away from a dependence on fossil fuels.

The company, which has been incorporated in the U.K. with Dutch tax residency and dual class shares since 2005, said it wanted to move to a more conventional structure to make the company more competitive as it seeks to meet the challenges of shifting toward cleaner energy.

Dutch officials said they were “unpleasantly surprised.”

“The government deeply regrets that Shell wants to move its head office to the United Kingdom,” Dutch Economic Affairs and Climate Minister Stef Blok said. “We are in talks with the top of Shell about the implications of this move for jobs, critical investment decisions and sustainability.”

He said the company had assured the government that “the personnel consequences of this decision will be limited to the relocation of a number of executive, board positions from the Netherlands to the United Kingdom.”

Shell said that while it was proud of its Dutch heritage, the changes mean it would no longer use “Royal Dutch” in its name.

“The simplification will normalize our share structure under the tax and legal jurisdictions of a single country and make us more competitive,” Shell Chairman Andrew Mackenzie said in a statement. “As a result, Shell will be better positioned to seize opportunities and play a leading role in the energy transition.”

Shareholders will be asked to vote on the measure at a meeting Dec. 10.

The proposal hints at the complications Shell and other energy giants face as they plan for the day when demand for oil fades and major economies turn to electric-powered cars. Chief Executive Ben van Beurden has made it clear in the past that he intends to have the company remain competitive in a world that gets more of its energy from renewable sources.

His comments came amid an increased focus on the future of the industry after the 2015 Paris climate agreement led governments to commit to tougher action on emissions and shareholders push for more long-term plans.

Shifting from a company that makes fossil fuels to net-zero emissions businesses will involve decreasing investment in one part of the firm and increasing it in another, said David Elmes, an energy expert at the Warwick Business School.

Shell has been challenged, meanwhile, by activist investment firm Third Point to split into a legacy fossil fuel company that returns funds to shareholders from producing oil and a net-zero firm that raises its own capital from markets, Elmes said.

“Shell have replied that it’s both the funds from declining fossil fuel activities and their transferrable capabilities that will allow them to be successful in making the transition as a single firm,” Elmes said. “They have resisted Third Point’s call to split the company.”

At a time of pressure, the company is proposing more clarity. Shell’s dual share structure is a legacy of a 2005 merger that created the company as it is known today. The structure makes it less clear to investors what they were buying and who they could expect payments from — or at least more complicated than many similar firms.

“Unifying the share structure is a step to make this whole process of transforming the company more transparent and simpler for shareholders,” Elmes said.

There are other pressures as well. Shell lost a landmark case brought by climate activists in the Netherlands earlier this year. The Hague District Court ordered the company to cut its carbon emissions by a net 45% by 2030 compared with 2019 levels, a decision activists hailed as a victory for the planet.

Peer de Rijk of Friends of the Earth Netherlands said Shell’s changes would have no effect on the case. Shell said in July it was appealing the ruling.

“This news has no negative consequences for Milieudefensie’s climate case against Shell. In any case, this lawsuit will remain with the Dutch courts,” De Rijk said.

“Rather, moving to the United Kingdom opens up a new front, including for future cases,” he added.

Shell is not the first multinational company to turn its back on the Netherlands. Last year, consumer goods giant Unilever — owner of household brands such as Dove, Lipton teas and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream — said it was ending its Anglo-Dutch corporate structure and would be headquartered in London.

____

Corder reported from The Hague, Netherlands.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., speaks before President Joe Biden signs the $1.2 trillion bipa...
Associated Press

Sinema took Wall Street money while killing tax on investors

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, the Arizona Democrat who single-handedly thwarted her party’s longtime goal of raising taxes on wealthy investors, received nearly $1 million over the past year from private equity professionals, hedge fund managers and venture capitalists whose taxes would have increased under the plan. For years, Democrats have promised to raise […]
23 hours ago
FILE- Internal Revenue Service taxes forms are seen on Feb. 13, 2019. The flagship climate change a...
Associated Press

Expanded IRS free-file system one step closer in Dems’ bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — The flagship climate change and health care bill passed by Democrats and soon to be signed by President Joe Biden will bring U.S. taxpayers one step closer to a government-operated electronic free-file tax return system. It’s something lawmakers and advocates have been seeking for years. For many Americans, it’s frustrating that beyond […]
23 hours ago
FILE - In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, air force and naval aviation corps of ...
Associated Press

China sending fighter jets to Thailand for joint exercises

BANGKOK (AP) — The Chinese air force is sending fighter jets and bombers to Thailand for a joint exercise with the Thai military on Sunday. The training will include air support, strikes on ground targets and small- and large-scale troop deployment, the Chinese Defense Ministry said in a statement posted on its website. China’s expanding […]
23 hours ago
FILE - This Aug. 9, 2020, still image taken from officer video provided by the Albuquerque Police D...
Associated Press

Suspect in 4 New Mexico killings left trail of violence

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — In the six years since he resettled in the United States from Afghanistan, the primary suspect in the slayings of four Muslim men in Albuquerque has been arrested several times for domestic violence and captured on camera slashing the tires of a woman’s car, according to police and court records. The […]
23 hours ago
Associated Press

Today in History: August 13, East Germany seals the border

Today in History Today is Saturday, Aug. 13, the 225th day of 2022. There are 140 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On Aug. 13, 1961, East Germany sealed off the border between Berlin’s eastern and western sectors before building a wall that would divide the city for the next 28 years. […]
23 hours ago
A Clinton County employee helps direct traffic as an Ohio State Highway Patrol vehicle leaves the s...
Associated Press

Ohio gunman appeared to threaten FBI after Trump home search

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A gunman who died in a shootout after trying to get inside the FBI’s Cincinnati office apparently went on social media and called for federal agents to be killed “on sight” following the search at former President Donald Trump’s home, a law enforcement official said. Federal investigators are examining social media […]
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
Shell wants to move headquarters amid cleaner energy shift