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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 June, 2005, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
Shell shareholders approve merger
Shell logo outside petrol station
The move is Shell's biggest overhaul in its 100-year history
Investors in Anglo-Dutch oil producer Shell have approved plans to merge its dual-ownership structure and create a single company worth 120bn ($219bn).

Until now, the firm has been 60% owned by Royal Dutch Petroleum and 40% owned by Shell Transport & Trading.

Merging the two sides should simplify the chain of command after management was blamed for a crisis led to Shell having to slash its oil reserves.

The company's new name will be Royal Dutch Shell.

100 years later

Tuesday's change brings almost 100 years of trading in as a dual organisation to an end.

"We thank our shareholders," said Aad Jacobs, chairman of the supervisory board.

The company had called on investors to usher in an era of "one company, one board and one chief executive."

What Shell actually needs to do is concentrate more on getting its strategy right and operationally improving performance
Neil McMahon, Sanford Berstein

The new shares will have their primary listing on the London Stock Exchange and are scheduled to start trading on July 20.

Shell is currently the sixth largest firm in London's FTSE 100 index, but a market value of more than 120bn would push it into the top two - almost on a par with oil giant BP.

Shell hopes its greater size will allow it to improve its competitive edge and lead consolidation in the industry.

Almost 98% of shareholders in the Netherlands voted in favour of unification. In London, the figure was closer to 96%.

"I think the unification will be very helpful for the company and private shareholders will benefit from that," said Shell stock owner Boudewijn Rietveldt.

"It will surely be good for the image of the company."

'Pursuit of profit'

Analysts said that while the change will simplify management structure, it will do little to solve Shell's main problem - the fact that it is not replacing its reserves of oil and gas quickly enough.

"What Shell actually needs to do is concentrate more on getting its strategy right and operationally improving performance," said Neil McMahon of Sanford Berstein.

"Just changing the nuances of the share structures of such companies [will not] in effect help them with exploration and find more oil and gas."

There have been demonstrations outside the meeting in London as environmental groups protest against continued pollution by Shell.

After chief executive Jeroen van der Veer opened the shareholders' meeting on Tuesday, management board members faced questions from activists who complained about Shell's "reckless pursuit of profit".

At close shares in Shell Transport & Trading had gained 3.2% in London, while Royal Dutch Petroleum shares added 3.5%.


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