By Toby Sterling
AMSTERDAM – On the day that shareholders of Royal Dutch Shell PLC voted to move the company’s headquarters to London from The Hague, the company sent a letter to the Dutch prime minister to soften the blow.
Signed by Shell CEO Ben van Beurden, the letter said Shell’s departure had been “a difficult message for us to announce,” given the company had more than a century of history.
But the letter to Prime Minister Mark Rutte outlined the many projects and activities Shell will continue in the Netherlands, including retaining 8,500 employees, and the division-level management of Shell’s upstream (production), renewable energy and projects & technology divisions.
Shell has said its shift to Britain would mean just nine staff, including CEO Van Beurden, would leave the Netherlands.
“In this letter, we would like to affirm our commitment to the Netherlands,” Van Beurden, who is Dutch, wrote. “Shell has the ambition to be, both through its own investments and through cooperation with others, one of the largest drivers of the energy transition in the Netherlands.”
Shell’s plans include helping to build the 750MW Hollandse Kust Noord offshore wind project, scheduled for completion in 2023, and the company is in talks over a hydrogen production facility at its Pernis refinery in Rotterdam, Europe’s largest.
More than 99% of Shell shareholders voted on Friday to approve the move to London. The company’s board must meet once more to make a final decision, with the changeover likely taking place in early 2022.
But the outcome seems a foregone conclusion: On Nov. 30 Van Beurden listed his estate in Wassenaar, a posh suburb of The Hague, for sale with an asking price of 6.5 million euros ($7.35 million).
($1 = 0.8840 euros)