Royal Dutch Shell has announced a plan to move its headquarters to the UK as part of proposals to simplify the company’s structure.

The oil giant will ask shareholders to vote on shifting its tax residence from the Netherlands to the UK.

It also wants to do away with its dual share structure in favour of just one class of shares to boost “the speed and flexibility” of shareholder payouts.

Shell’s chief executive Ben van Beurden will relocate to the UK.

The company’s chief financial officer Jessica Uhl will also move, alongside seven other senior employees.

Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng welcomed Shell’s announcement, tweeting that it was “a clear vote of confidence in the British economy”.

The Dutch government, however, said it was “unpleasantly surprised” by Shell’s proposal.

Stef Blok, economic affairs and climate minister, said: “We are in a dialogue with the management of Shell over the consequences of this plan for jobs, crucial investment decisions and sustainability,”

The company said: “Shell is proud of its Anglo-Dutch heritage and will continue to be a significant employer with a major presence in the Netherlands.

“Its projects and technology division, global upstream and integrated gas businesses and renewable energies hub remain located in The Hague.”

The decision to simplify Shell’s structure comes after Third Point, a US activist investor, recently bought a stake in the company and suggested the business should be split into two firms, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Shell has been incorporated in the UK and had a Dutch tax residence – as well as the dual share structure – since 2005.

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The changes also mean the company will drop “Royal Dutch” from its title and be renamed Shell. This element dates back to 1890 when the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company was formed. That company merged with the UK’s Shell Transport and Trading Company in 1907.

Shell said: “Carrying the Royal designation has been a source of immense pride and honour for Shell for more than 130 years.

“However, the company anticipates it will no longer meet the conditions for using the designation following the proposed change.”

Shares in Shell rose by 2.1% to £16.77 on Monday morning. The company said its shares would continue to be listed in Amsterdam, London and New York

Shareholders will vote on the proposals at a meeting on 10 December.

 

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