Oil producer and lubricant manufacturer Royal Dutch Shell appears to be open to a change to its Anglo-Dutch structure, wherein it is incorporated in the UK but headquartered in the Netherlands. Instead, it would become one legal entity based in the UK.
Ben Van Beurden, Shell’s CEO, was speaking to the Dutch financial newspaper Financieele Dagblad. His comments suggest the company is open to the idea but has reservations about the complexities of such a move, with Van Beurden saying:
“You always need to keep thinking. 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.”
Reuters reports a spokesperson from Shell as confirming that the oil giant was looking into how it could streamline its dual structure, but added that it had been pursuing this goal for some years already.
The issue appears to be the 15% withholding tax on dividends in the Netherlands, which Shell has lobbied against, saying it complicates corporate actions like acquisitions, buy-backs of shares, and dividend financing. Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, tried to abolish the tax in 2018 but later scrapped the plan after it was popularly seen as a tax cut for rich overseas investors.
The move put Shell’s structure in the spotlight again, where it coordinates its oil, fuel, lubricant and other businesses from its The Hague headquarters but employs various arrangements to shield investors in its British arm from having dividends taxed in the Netherlands.