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The Independent: Shell launches $5bn share buy-back plan: "Shell hopes its restructuring programme will help put the reserves scandal behind it. It has made settlements worth 137m with the US and UK financial regulators and recently agreed to pay $90m in damages to a group of US employee shareholders who had brought a class action against the oil giant. There remain a further two shareholder lawsuits in the US, while both the Dutch markets regulator, the ASM, and Euronext are still investigating the scandal.": Thursday 11 August 2005

 

By Damian Reece

 

Royal Dutch Shell is to continue the restructuring programme triggered by last year's reserves scandal by launching a share buy-back programme worth up to $5bn.

 

The company has merged its old Netherlands-based Royal Dutch operation with the UK-based Shell Transport & Trading to create a unified business.

 

A lack of management clarity and a complicated ownership structure had been blamed in part for last year's crisis, when the company was forced to admit it had misled investors by overstating the amount of its oil reserves.

 

The drama resulted in the departure of its chairman, Sir Philip Watts, who is still in dispute with the Financial Services Authority over his role in the affair.

 

The unified company - named Royal Dutch Shell, with its headquarters in The Hague but its main stockmarket listing in London - said yesterday that its buy-back programme would be at the upper end of its $3bn-$5bn range, thanks to strong cash generation in the first half of this year.

 

Shareholders in Royal Dutch and Shell Transport & Trading swapped their old shares for new A and B shares respectively. Yesterday the company said that it expected to buy back more A shares than B shares, considering the prevailing market price and relative tax treatment of the A and B shares. Both classes of share rose 1.41 per cent.

 

Separately, it announced that it had received acceptances for 98.7 per cent of its old Royal Dutch shares and was proceeding with a de-listing from the Euronext Amsterdam stock exchange. The last day of dealing will be 30 September.

 

Shell hopes its restructuring programme will help put the reserves scandal behind it. It has made settlements worth 137m with the US and UK financial regulators and recently agreed to pay $90m in damages to a group of US employee shareholders who had brought a class action against the oil giant.

 

There remain a further two shareholder lawsuits in the US, while both the Dutch markets regulator, the ASM, and Euronext are still investigating the scandal.

 

The company now has a single board, stockmarket listing and chief executive.

 

http://news.independent.co.uk/business/news/article305123.ece

 

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