According to preliminary polling 99.77 percent of shareholders so far had backed the move with just under 58 percent of votes cast. Final results are expected later in the day although it is thought the result is unlikely to change. The company follows another Anglo-Dutch firm, Unilever, which also decided to move its headquarters to London from the Netherlands. Shareholders were asked to vote on a range of new proposals aimed at simplifying the company’s structure which will also see it drop ‘Royal Dutch’ from its official name.
Shell’s tax residence and headquarters will move to the UK along with board meetings and senior staff, including chief executive Ben van Beurden.
Shell’s Chair, Sir Andrew Mackenzie, said: “This resounding support from shareholders to amend Shell’s Articles of Association will enable a simplification of the company’s share structure and an increase in the speed and flexibility of capital and portfolio actions.
“The Board believes that the simplification will strengthen Shell’s competitiveness and accelerate both shareholder distributions and delivery of its strategy to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, in step with society.”
Tax has been a key factor in the decision with the Netherlands applying a 15 percent withholding tax to dividends paid on Shell’s Class A shares.
This will be done through buybacks with Shell taking advantage of no longer being subject to Dutch taxes to buy back its own shares, pushing up the value for shareholders.
Once today’s vote is complete a final board decision will be taken with the board hoping to proceed with the proposals as soon as possible.
Shell’s share price rose 0.75 percent following the vote.