The Sunday Times: Shell needs much more than a PR offensive
By William Lewis
January 25, 2004
OH DEAR. It looks like Sir Phil Watts is planning to try to re-emerge as a cuddly, media-friendly chairman of Shell.
It follows the company’s calamitous announcement that it had cut its proven reserves by 20%. Certainly Watt’s —and Shell’s — PR couldn’t get any worse, but something much more radical is needed.
The Anglo-Dutch company’s advisers, however, are dampening hopes that any big changes to its befuddling, bureaucratic governance structure will be announced when its year-end figures are published on February 5.
There is no excuse. Radical change is possible. Crispin Davis brought to an end Reed Elsevier’s two-board nonsense, and it liberated the company’s share price.
Shell needs to introduce a unitary board, an independent non-executive chairman and one chief executive. If Watts wants to keep his job he needs to seize the initiative and go for a wide-ranging shake up.
Shareholders are right to be worried about the group’s performance and should keep up the pressure. Shell must change.
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