FTC Clears Proposed Merger of Royal Dutch/Shell Holding Cos

U.S. antitrust regulators this week cleared Royal Dutch/Shell Group's plan to merge its two holding companies, The Hague-based Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., which owns 60% of the company, and London-based Shell Transport & Trading Co Ltd., which owns 40%.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) granted early termination of its review of the proposed merger without taking any steps to block it. Royal Dutch/Shell announced the merger in late October to mollify its investors who were angered by the oil and natural gas reserves deception that had plagued the company throughout the past year (see Daily GPI. Oct. 29).

Under the merger proposal, the two parent groups, which have been managed as a unit since 1907, will merge and form the supervisory board of the new company, to be named Royal Dutch Shell PLC. The consolidation is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2005, with the new company to be nominally based in London but with its physical headquarters and tax home in The Hague, Netherlands.

Analysts welcome the marriage of the Royal Dutch/Shell structure in the wake of reserves nightmare that has dogged the company. The crisis led to three senior executives being ousted, multi-million dollar fines being imposed by U.S. and British regulators and a significant drop in the company's oil and natural gas reserves in 2004 (see Daily GPI, April 20).

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