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Royal Dutch Shell shareholders vote for chief executive's £4.3m pay packet


Royal Dutch Shell's chief executive Ben van Beurden

Royal Dutch Shell's chief executive Ben van Beurden

Royal Dutch Shell's chief executive Ben van Beurden

Shareholders in Royal Dutch Shell have voted overwhelmingly in favour of chief executive Ben van Beurden's £4.3 million pay packet at the oil giant's annual general meeting.

The company's remuneration report was approved by more than 86% of proxy shareholders, despite a wave of investor unrest hitting several high profile AGMs over the past months.

Investors had been urged to vote against the remuneration report in protest at Mr van Beurden's pay in 2015, even though it marked a significant reduction from the 24.2 million euros (£18.6 million) he was paid in 2014 in the wake of plunging profits and the falling oil price.

Shareholder advisory firm Pirc had argued he still earned 37 times the average employee's pay, which it described as "unacceptable".

But it was not enough to deter shareholders from voting the pay packet through.

Shareholders in oil giant BP recently voted to reject its remuneration report, which included a pay deal of 19.6 million dollars (£13.8 million) for chief executive Bob Dudley. Mining giant Anglo American has also faced investor protests after 42% of shareholders voted against chief executive Mark Cutifani's £3.4 million pay package for 2015.

Shell also faced a barrage of questions regarding climate change after shareholder groups tabled a special resolution calling for the group to invest profits from oil and gas into renewable energy and "stop the exploration and acquisition of more oil and gas".

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Mr van Beurden said that adopting a renewable-only policy is not something Shell would support.

He said: "Tying the company down to a renewables-only policy would be strategically unwise. The next decades will see energy transition and Shell will adapt to a world that requires less CO2."

Shell also defended its dividend policy in response to calls to link it to the oil price, which has plummeted since 2014, claiming that most shareholders instead favour "stable and significant returns".

Last year the dividend stood at US dollars 12 billion and, after the completion of its acquisition of rival BG, it will rise to US dollars 15 billion.

The beginning of the meeting was marred by protests from campaigners angry over the oil giant's operation in Groningen province in the northern Netherlands.

The AGM was held up for several minutes as protesters chanted and shouted about Shell's handling of safety at its joint venture drilling project at one of Europe's richest gas fields, where extraction is causing earthquakes in the region.