Royal Dutch Shell "does not rule out" moving HQ from Netherlands to UK, says CEO Ben van Beurden

Royal Dutch Shell does not rule out moving its headquarters from the Netherlands to Britain, the oil company’s chief executive Ben van Beurden said in an interview with Dutch newspaper het Financieele Dagblad.

Anglo-Dutch consumer products giant Unilever said last month it plans to ditch its dual Anglo-Dutch legal structure and create a single entity in Britain.

Van Beurden did not explicitly say Shell wants to move its headquarters, het Financieele Dagblad said.

“You always need to keep thinking,” Shell’s Van Beurden told the newspaper. “Nothing is permanent and of course we will look at the business climate. But moving your headquarters is not a trivial measure. You cannot think too lightly about that.”

A Shell spokesman subsequently confirmed the CEO’s comments to Reuters and said the company was looking at ways to simplify its dual structure, as it had been doing for many years.

Shell has a complex Anglo-Dutch holding structure with a tax residency and headquarters in the Netherlands and a registered office in Britain.

Unilever’s decision to move followed the scrapping in 2018 of a plan by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to do away with a 15% dividend withholding tax.

Shell’s corporate structure features the parent company headquarters in The Hague but two share classes and other arrangements to prevent the Dutch government from levying withholding tax on dividends paid to shareholders of its former British arm.

Shell has consistently lobbied against the dividend tax, which it says makes financing dividends, share buy-backs and acquisitions more difficult.

Image: Shell

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