Financial Times: Shell aims to unveil report next week
By Ian Bickerton in Amsterdam, Clay Harris in London and Adrian Michaels in New York
April 16 2004
Royal Dutch/Shell is understood to be working towards publishing early next week the main conclusions of the internal report that will detail the circumstances surrounding the dramatic cut in its oil and gas reserves.
Non-executives and executive board members from its UK and Dutch arms on Friday discussed the final report for the first time in a day-long meeting in The Hague, Netherlands.
It is understood, however, that some issues remain to be resolved, and further discussions are likely during the weekend, ahead of the formal announcement.
Concern that the audit committee report may be seen as a whitewash prompted Shell to engage a second public relations company, Brunswick, in addition to an existing adviser, Finsbury.
Judy Boynton, chief financial officer, meanwhile, has engaged Samuel Winer, formerly a lawyer in the enforcement division of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the chief US financial regulator, and now a partner at Foley & Lardner in Washington, to represent her personally.
Mr Winer declined to comment on his appointment.
The hiring of personal counsel is common among US senior executives.
A Dutch lawyer with experience of such matters said: "It implies there could be a conflict between that person and the other members of the executive board, or that the person is under fire from the supervisory board. It is not unusual when there is a conflict or a potential conflict, and there is definitely a potential conflict, because she is in the frame of those who could possibly have known [about doubts over reserves]."
The lawyer stressed: "I would not conclude anything from it. It may just be that she feels uncomfortable with the storm gathering above her and she wants to make sure she is not saying or doing the wrong things while having a clean record."