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November 15, 2021

Shell undergoes structural overhaul, moving tax residency to the UK

Shell has announced it will be scrapping its dual share structure, moving its tax residence from the Netherlands to the UK.

By Scarlett Evans

Royal Dutch Shell announced today that it will be scrapping its dual share structure and moving its tax residence from the Netherlands to the UK, following pressure from an activist shareholder.

The oil group, which is also expected to drop the ‘Royal’ designation and go simply by Shell Plc moving forwards, says that the decision to establish a single line of shares will improve competitiveness and allow for easier distribution of profits to shareholders.

The Anglo-Dutch group has consistently run into conflict over its dual listing, which has been in place since 2005. Dutch authorities typically withhold a 15% tax on dividends for domestically listed companies, something that Shell has been able to avoid given its dual listing. The shift to a single share structure avoids this conflict as the UK does not have the same tax in place.

The latest announcement follows pressure from a new investor, Wall Street activist Third Point, whose CEO Dan Loeb said that Shell’s existing system was “incoherent” and “conflicting”.

While the Dutch Government said that the decision was an “unwelcome surprise”, it has been met with enthusiasm by Britain’s business minister Kwasi Kwarteng.

Kwarteng wrote on Twitter:

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“Welcome news Shell is proposing to relocate its Group HQ to the United Kingdom as part of their plans to accelerate the transition to clean energy. A clear vote of confidence in the British economy as we work to strengthen competitiveness, attract investment and create jobs.”

In a statement, Shell’s Chair, Sir Andrew Mackenzie, also said the decision would help facilitate the transition to a cleaner economy, saying: “At a time of unprecedented change for the industry, it’s even more important that we have an increased ability to accelerate the transition to a lower-carbon global energy system. A simpler structure will enable Shell to speed up the delivery of its Powering Progress strategy, while creating value for our shareholders, customers, and wider society.”

Mackenzie added: “The simplification will normalise our share structure under the tax and legal jurisdictions of a single country and make us more competitive. As a result, Shell will be better positioned to seize opportunities and play a leading role in the energy transition. Shell’s board unanimously recommends shareholders vote in favour of the proposed resolution.”

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