Shell ditches the Dutch, seeks move to London in overhaul

Shell LNG

Royal Dutch Shell revealed it would move its head office to Britain from the Netherlands.
Shell LNGThe company, which faced questions from investors about its dual structure, aims to drop Royal Dutch from its name – part of its identity since 1907 – to become Shell Plc.

The oil and gas giant has been in a tussle with the Dutch authorities over the country’s 15 percent dividend withholding tax on some of its shares, making them less attractive for international investors. Shell introduced the two-class share structure in 2005 after a previous corporate overhaul, Reuters reported.

The new single structure with all shares under British law means none of its shares would be under this tax. It would also allow Shell to strike swifter sale or acquisition deals.

The Dutch government said on Monday it was unpleasantly surprised by Shell’s plans to move to London from The Hague.

Dutch Economic Affairs Minister Stef Blok contacted the heads of political parties in parliament on Monday to gauge support for scrapping the dividend tax, broadcaster RTL reported.

“The current complex share structure is subject to constraints and may not be sustainable in the long term,” Shell said.

The dual structure means Shell now has primary listings in both London and Amsterdam, as well as two overarching legal headquarters despite operating as one economic group.

The change requires at least 75 percent of votes by shareholders at a general meeting to be held on Dec. 10, the company said.

Shell has said it would return $7 billion from selling U.S. assets to ConocoPhillips in addition to an ongoing share buyback program.

Monday’s move follows a major overhaul Shell completed this summer as part of its strategy to shift away from oil and gas to renewables and low-carbon energy. The overhaul included thousands of job cuts around the world.