Royal Dutch Shell Group .com Shell May Decide Against Unifying Dutch, U.K. Boards, FT Says


April 24 (Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch/Shell Group's management committee may defy calls by some investors to unify its dual non- executive boards, the Financial Times reported, citing unidentified people close to Europe's second-largest oil company.


The separation of the Dutch and U.K. non-executive bodies had nothing to do with Shell overstating its reserves, the people told the FT. Shell surprised investors this year by reducing its proven oil and gas reserves by 22 percent.


The company is considering how to boost transparency and the authority of the boards, the newspaper said. Shell may keep two boards but reshape voting rights, the paper said, citing Neil McMahon, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein.


``That might appease some investors,'' McMahon said, ``but others may argue that anything short of unifying the boards will not answer demand for an overhaul of what they consider an outdated and cumbersome system of governance.''


Shell on April 19 said at least another 300 million barrels of oil and gas had been wrongly booked as proven reserves with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Since January, Shell has lowered 2002's proven reserves by 4.35 billion barrels to 15 billion barrels.


The company said it will speed up a review and that a working group is ``exploring all possibilities for improving governance and structure.'' The company will give an update and a timetable at its annual shareholders' meeting on June 28.


(Financial Times, 4-24 M1)


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Melanie Bull in London at


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James G. Neuger at

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