£35bn Shell takeover approved by BG shareholders

The cash-and-shares deal will create a major new oil and gas group in Europe to rival ExxonMobil in the US

A majority of BG shareholders have voted in favour of a £35bn mega-merger with Shell, creating a major new oil and gas group in Europe to rival ExxonMobil in the US.

At a general meeting, 13% of BG shareholders opposed the partnership but not nearly enough to upset a Shell tie-up which is now set for formal completion on 15 February.

Ben van Beurden, chief executive of Shell, said he was “very pleased” with the outcome which will increase the size of Europe’s largest oil and gas group but also herald a raft of asset sales and job cuts.

“BG adds attractive deep water and integrated gas positions and will act as a catalyst for accelerating the reshaping of our business,” said Van Beurden, who has had to fight against mounting City scepticism about the tie up due to plummeting oil prices. “We now look forward delivering the benefits of the combination as quickly as possible following completion.”

Wood Mackenzie, the global oil consultancy based in Edinburgh, said the latest industry merger should be good for Shell and allow it to compete among the world’s largest publicly quoted energy groups.

“Shell will now join ExxonMobil in the Ultramajor league, with both producing 4.3 million boe/d (barrels of oil equivalent per day) in 2020. There will be clear differentiation at the top with ExxonMobil having leadership in unconventionals, and Shell in LNG and deepwater,” it said.

Few expected BG shareholders to oppose the Shell cash-and-shares offer because it was agreed by both sets of boards back in April last year, with a hefty 50% premium to the then BG share price. The 13% of shareholders who did oppose the deal held fewer than 1% of the shares.

The bigger difficulty was convincing Shell shareholders at a meeting in The Hague on Wednesday. A bigger-than-expected 17% of shareholders eventually voted against the takeover, but a clear majority again won the day.


Terry Macalister

The GuardianTramp

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