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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 June, 2004, 10:11 GMT 11:11 UK
Review may end Shell's twin board
Shell Stanlow refinery
Shell is attempting to win back investor confidence
Shell has said its twin board structure may be abolished as part of an effort to win back investor confidence after a crisis over missing oil reserves.

Shell has been forced to restate its reserves four times this year which sparked anger among shareholders and led several top executives to quit.

The firm says an internal review into its governing structures following the debacle will be published in November.

Shell has been criticised by investors for shrouding the review in secrecy.

'Right signals'

In a letter to the Financial Times newspaper on Wednesday, key investors Knight Vinke and pension fund Calpers demanded Shell be more transparent in order to make the review process more credible.

Amongst other alternatives, forms of unified boards, to which a CEO (chief executive officer) would report, are being studied

Shell has indicated that it would consider simplifying its board structure, a key shareholder demand.

The Anglo-Dutch group presently has two boards: one oversees Royal Dutch Petroleum, which owns 60% of the group, while the other heads UK-based Shell Transport & Trading.

"Amongst other alternatives, forms of unified boards, to which a CEO (chief executive officer) would report, are being studied," Shell said in a statement.

"Nothing is ruled out at this stage."

The announcement "sends out the right signals," said Richard Rose an analyst for Oriel Securities.

Past woes

Shell had cut its oil and gas reserves by 20% at the beginning of the year.

The ensuing turmoil led to the departure of Chairman Philip Watts, oil and gas chief Walter van de Vijver and chief financial officer Judy Boynton.

Other cuts, although not so large, further dented investor confidence.

Shell has since been on a charm offensive.

In April, at the same time it announced profits had surged by 9%, it promised a share buyback in an attempt to boost market sentiment.

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