Royal Dutch Shell Group .com

Houston Chronicle: Shell chairman says he won’t quit

Associated Press

Jan. 29, 2004, 10:30PM


Royal Dutch/Shell Group Chairman Philip Watts told employees recently he had no plans to quit, defying calls for his departure after Europe's second-largest oil company unexpectedly cut its estimate of oil and gas reserves.


Some investors have sought management changes after Shell said Jan. 9 that proven reserves were wrongly booked and 20 percent lower than estimated, causing the biggest drop in Shell shares since July 2002.


Watts "confirmed he didn't plan to resign" at a meeting with 1,000 employees at Shell's London headquarters, said spokesman Andy Corrigan.


"It looks like Shell is closing ranks," said Tony Alves, an analyst at Investec Securities in London with a "hold" rating on Shell shares. "It's the kind of behavior one would expect. It's disappointing."


No Shell chairman has left the post before his term ended in at least the past decade. The reduction in Shell's reserves, worth $120 billion as crude oil at today's prices, came after the company last year missed targets for growth in oil and gas output and was overtaken in size by London-based BP.


Watts, 58, has been chairman of Shell's committee of managing directors, a six-member group that sets strategy, since July 2001. He reaches a mandatory retirement age of 60 in June 2005.


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