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Daily Telegraph: Shell urged to help pay investors' tax bills: "Lord Oxburgh of Liverpool, the former chairman of Shell, has called on the oil and gas giant to compensate British investors left with a multi-million pound tax bill from its restructuring.": The vast majority of the 3,000 Royal Dutch holders accepted the deal after Jeroen van der Veer, Shell's chief executive, warned his "toolbox" to help them was empty. But a small minority held out and were rewarded in late September when Shell offered a tax-efficient loan note alternative. The shareholders who originally accepted - and have been left with a large tax bill - are now considering legal action against Shell.": Monday 14 November 2005

By Christopher Hope, Business Correspondent (Filed: 14/11/2005)

Lord Oxburgh of Liverpool, the former chairman of Shell, has called on the oil and gas giant to compensate British investors left with a multi-million pound tax bill from its restructuring.

The peer, who stood down three months ago, chaired the board of Shell Transport and Trading when it merged with Royal Dutch Petroleum to create Royal Dutch Shell, a 130billion oil and gas giant.

However, it emerged that 3,000 UK shareholders in Royal Dutch Petroleum, many of them elderly, were left with a 77m capital gains tax bill on their collective 192m from the change-over.

Lord Oxburgh, 71, who stepped down in July, told The Daily Telegraph: "I would feel much better if a way could be found to compensate them for the losses they have suffered.

"Privately we had sympathy with them and the letters that had to be written were quite formal for that reason.

"I would have liked to have taken some of those old ladies and given them a big hug but we were not allowed to do so." Shell's board had been unaware of the extent of British holders in Royal Dutch because many of the holdings were through anonymous nominee accounts, he said.

"The shareholders have to realise that because they were investing in a Dutch company in such a way that they were totally invisible as far as the Royal Dutch board is concerned. Once the problem had reached that point the company was on the road and in a position that it would have been illegal to offer any kind of financial advice to shareholders."

The vast majority of the 3,000 Royal Dutch holders accepted the deal after Jeroen van der Veer, Shell's chief executive, warned his "toolbox" to help them was empty.

But a small minority held out and were rewarded in late September when Shell offered a tax-efficient loan note alternative. The shareholders who originally accepted - and have been left with a large tax bill - are now considering legal action against Shell.

The Association of Private Client Investment Managers and Stockbrokers, which campaigned for the shareholders and is holding a meeting for British Royal Dutch holders today, welcomed the peer's comments.

A spokesman said: "Given Lord Oxburgh's views on this matter, it is a great pity that he was unable to act upon them whilst still in charge at Shell. However, it is never too late for Shell to put things right."

A Shell spokesman said: "Royal Dutch Shell does not believe that it is appropriate to provide payments to some shareholders for individual tax liabilities. In addition, UK shareholders who accepted the Royal Dutch offer will have the tax base cost of their investment reset, which may reduce or eliminate the CGT arising on future disposals.

"On this basis, it would be inequitable for Royal Dutch Shell to make payments to any shareholder for their tax liability."

5 November 2005: Resistance pays off for Shell rebels
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24 September 2005: Shell finally does the decent thing

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