Shell moves headquarters from The Hague to London

“Unpleasantly surprised” and, above all, very disappointed: the resigning government of the Netherlands deplored ” at the highest point “ Royal Dutch Shell’s decision to move its head office and fiscal location from The Hague to London. The announcement, made Monday, November 15 in the morning, is accompanied by what the Dutch equate to a stab: the oil and gas giant will officially become Shell Plc, by waiving the qualifiers “Royal” and “Dutch” (” Dutch “). The CEO and CFO will also be relocating to the British capital.

The company explains above all its action by a desire to simplify its organization, in order to better redistribute its profits to shareholders. Shell will in fact have only one class of shares, whereas there are currently “class A” and “class B” categories. ” [Cela] will make it possible to organize more share buybacks ”, provides leadership.

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The obligation, for Shell, to submit to the constraints of the energy transition and to achieve carbon neutrality is another reason for this transfer. On Wednesday May 26, the district court in The Hague had forced the group to reduce its emissions faster than expected. Environmental organizations and some 17,000 citizens had won a lawsuit requiring the company to reduce its emissions by 45% by 2030, in order to comply with the Paris climate agreement of 2015.

Taxation projects

Shell has appealed but is expected, pending this judgment, to comply with the judgment issued at first instance. The management ensures that his move does not change anything in the trial and the appeal in progress. The Friends of the Earth association, one of the complainants, agrees. “The legal proceedings remain before the Dutch courts of justice”, explains Peer de Rijk, coordinator of the complaint.

The move to London is also linked to tax issues and the taxation of dividends. In 2018, public opinion was shocked by the fact that Shell had not paid taxes when its profit had risen to 1.3 billion euros the previous year. In the process, the government of Liberal Mark Rutte tried to correct the image of a kingdom ranked fourth in the world ranking of tax havens for large companies, according to data from the International Network for Tax Justice.

He therefore introduced a plan to tax the profits of tax-exempt groups, even if their head office is established in the kingdom. Until then, Shell could accumulate the losses of its subsidiaries and deduct them – just like its investments abroad – from its profits in the Netherlands. Its taxes had therefore been reduced to almost nil over the past decade. Mr. Rutte had previously defended a plan to abolish the 15% tax on dividends paid to shareholders, which would have saved Shell 7 billion euros.

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