The Daily Telegraph: Shell shareholders demand change after bombshell
By Danielle Rossingh (Filed: 19/01/2004)
Major shareholders of Royal Dutch/Shell are this week expected to meet Lord Oxburgh of Liverpool, its senior UK non-executive, to discuss changes to the way the Anglo-Dutch oil giant is run.
The move follows recent investor anger over how Shell released its shock statement earlier this month that it had overstated its oil and gas reserves by 20pc. The announcement stunned the City, dragged down oil stocks worldwide and ended with major investors calling for changes to Shell's bureaucratic structure, which consists of a Dutch board, a British board and a committee of managing directors.
Sir Philip Watts, chairman of the committee of managing directors, and his finance director, Judy Boynton, were heavily criticised for not facing up to analysts in a conference call held after the bombshell was made public.
In a letter to staff last Friday, Sir Philip admitted that the statement had led to "significant concern and, in some quarters, outrage". He said communications had to be "limited" because of the company being in a closed period in the run-up to its fourth quarter results on February 5.
"Given subsequent reactions, to some this might not seem to have been the correct decision but we did achieve the objective of giving facts unclouded by personality issues," he wrote.
A spokesman for the Association of British Insurers, which last week coordinated a letter by institutional shareholders to Shell suggesting a series of corporate governance changes, yesterday said: "Our members are clearly concerned".
But she declined to comment on Sir Philip's letter and calls at the weekend for his resignation, saying: "Discussions will take place".
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