Oil giant Shell chooses UK for tax residency

The business has been incorporated in the UK, but tax resident in the Netherlands, for the past 16 years.

August Graham
Monday 15 November 2021 08:52
Chief executive Ben van Beurden will be based in London under the proposed changes. (Daniel Lynch/Newscast/PA))
Chief executive Ben van Beurden will be based in London under the proposed changes. (Daniel Lynch/Newscast/PA))

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has announced a major overhaul to its business which will see it drop the first two words in its name and move its tax residence to the UK.

The company, which insisted it was not abandoning the Netherlands said it would no longer qualify for the Royal Dutch designation following the proposed changes.

Board meetings will be held in the UK, and Shell’s chief executives and finance bosses will be based in the country from now on.

It also plans to cancel its slightly confusing dual-share structure. In London today shareholders can buy an A share or a B share in Shell.

By folding these share categories into each other the company would be “simpler for investors to understand and value”, Shell said.

It will reverse a structure that the business took on in 2005 when Shell abandoned its dual-listed structure in the UK and the Netherlands.

Instead the two arms unified under one group, with a dual-share structure, an incorporation in the UK, and Dutch tax residency.

“It was not envisaged at the time of unification that the current A/B share structure would be permanent,” Shell said on Monday.

Shell chair Sir Andrew Mackenzie said: “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.”

But the move will cost Shell its Royal designation, that the company and its forerunners have held for more than 130 years.

The company said it would “no longer meet the conditions for using the designation”, and proposed changing its name from Royal Dutch Shell plc to just Shell plc.

Sir Andrew said: “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.”

Shareholders will be given a vote on the proposals next month.

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