Shell Drops "Royal Dutch" From its Name and Moves to Britain

File image courtesy Shell

Published Nov 15, 2021 8:40 PM by The Maritime Executive

Oil supermajor Shell has decided to move its headquarters from the Netherlands to the UK, ending its dual-listing structure and removing "Royal Dutch" from its full name. 

The move has significant tax advantages for Shell, Europe's largest energy company. By relocating its tax residence to the United Kingdom, Shell will benefit from a lower corporate tax rate and end its exposure to the Netherlands' new 15 percent dividend withholding tax, which took effect in January.

“The simplification will normalize our share structure under the tax and legal jurisdictions of a single country and make us more competitive,” Shell chairman Sir Andrew Mackenzie said.

Shell is the largest public corporation in the Netherlands, and the Dutch government expressed displeasure at the sudden news of its departure. "We are unpleasantly surprised by this. The cabinet deeply regrets this intention," Economic Affairs Minister Stef Blok said in a statement. "We are in talks with Shell about the implications of this move for jobs, critical investment decisions and sustainability. Those are hugely important."

In announcing its decision, Shell said that it "will continue to be a significant employer with a major presence in the Netherlands." The real heart of Shell's day-to-day business operations will remain Dutch: Its global upstream, integrated gas, renewable energies and technology divisions are all staying in The Hague. 

On the other side of the channel, officials in the UK welcomed the move. UK Business Minister Kwasi Kwarteng hailed Shell's announcement as a "clear vote of confidence in the British economy." The decision is widely seen as a win for post-Brexit Britain, illustrating continued corporate interest in "Global Britain" despite the nation's departure from the EU. 

The corporate relocation comes six months after a Dutch district court ordered Shell to cut its global carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2030. Shell is appealing the ruling, and the change in location of the company's corporate headquarters is not expected to affect the outcome of the litigation.