Shell boss weighs up moving headquarters to Britain

Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurden’s hint about a possible switch of headquarters comes as the oil giant looks to simplify its dual structure. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 05 July 2020

Shell boss weighs up moving headquarters to Britain

  • Shell has consistently lobbied against the dividend tax

AMSTERDAM: Royal Dutch Shell is not ruling out moving its headquarters from the Netherlands to Britain, the oil company’s CEO Ben van Beurden said in a Dutch newspaper interview published on Saturday.

Anglo-Dutch consumer products giant Unilever said last month it plans to ditch its dual Anglo-Dutch legal structure and create a single entity in Britain.

Van Beurden did not explicitly say Shell wants to move its headquarters, Het Financieele Dagblad said.

“You always need to keep thinking,” Shell’s Van Beurden told the newspaper. “Nothing is permanent and, of course, we will look at the business climate. But moving your headquarters is not a trivial measure. You cannot think too lightly about that.”

A Shell spokesman confirmed the CEO’s comments and said the company was looking at ways to simplify its dual structure, as it had been doing for many years.

Shell has a complex Anglo-Dutch holding structure with a tax residency and headquarters in the Netherlands and a registered office in Britain.

Unilever’s decision to move followed the scrapping in 2018 of a plan by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to do away with a 15 percent dividend withholding tax.

Shell’s corporate structure features the parent company headquarters in The Hague but two share classes and other arrangements to prevent the Dutch government from levying withholding tax on dividends paid to shareholders of its former British arm.

The arrangement has come under renewed scrutiny after the Dutch government tried to scrap the dividend tax as an incentive to convince Unilever to unify its dual structure in Rotterdam.

Rutte abandoned the plan after a popular outcry over the tax cut, which was seen as a gift to rich foreigners.

Shell has consistently lobbied against the dividend tax, which it says makes financing dividends, share buy-backs and acquisitions more difficult.


Aramco profits fall in tough quarter, but sees partial recovery from COVID-19 impact

Updated 09 August 2020

Aramco profits fall in tough quarter, but sees partial recovery from COVID-19 impact

  • Aramco see’s “partial recovery” from pandemic impact
  • Aramco president says company remains resilient

DUBAI: Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company, reported a net income of $6.57bn for the second quarter of 2020, the period which witnessed the most volatile oil market conditions for many decades.

The result, announced to the Tadawul stock exchange in Riyadh where the shares are listed, compared with income of $24.7 bn last year.

Amin Nasser, president and chief executive, said: “Despite COVID-19 bringing the world to a standstill, Aramco kept going. We have proven our financial resilience and operational reliability, setting a record in our business operations, while at the same time taking steps to ensure the health and safety of our people.”

Aramco’s dividend - a big attraction for the investors who bought into the world’s biggest initial public offering last year - will remain as pledged, Nasser added. Cash flow in the quarter amounted to $6.106 bn.

““Strong headwinds from reduced demand and lower oil prices are reflected in our second quarter results. Yet we delivered solid earnings because of our low production costs, unique scale, agile workforce, and unrivalled financial and operational strength. This helped us deliver on our plan to maintain a second quarter dividend of $18.75 billion to be paid in the third quarter,” he said.

Aramco said the loss was “mainly reflecting the impact of lower crude oil prices and declining refining and chemicals margins, partly offset by a decrease in production royalties resulting from lower crude oil prices and a decrease in the royalty rate from 20 per cent to 15 per cent, lower income taxes and zakat as a result of lower earnings, and higher other income related to sales for gas products.”

Sales and revenue in the period - which saw oil prices collapse on “Black Monday” in April - fell 57 per cent to $32.861 bn from the comparable period last year. 

Nasser said he was cautiously optimistic that the world economy was slowly recovering from the depths of the pandemic lockdowns.

“We are seeing a partial recovery in the energy market as countries around the world take steps to ease restrictions and reboot their economies. Meanwhile, we continue to place people’s safety first and have adapted to the new normal, implementing wide-ranging precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19 wherever we operate.

“We are determined to emerge from the pandemic stronger and will continue making progress on our long-term strategic journey, through ongoing investments in our business – which has one of the lowest upstream carbon footprints in the world,” he added.

Aramco expects capital expenditure to be at the lower end of the $25bn to $30bn range it has already indicated for this year.