Royal Dutch Shell Group .com A Shell insider comments on an FT article about Aad Jacobs, the Chairman of Royal Dutch Shell plc.: “I find it incredible that big companies hang on to these geriatrics.”: “…the salmon was getting cold so he could not spend more time on this minor issue of bad reserves reporting. He had done what a chairman of the supervisory board had to do and continued with his lunch.”: Monday 5 December 2005: 09.45am EST


Received by email (with name and address supplied) from a reliable insider source


Aad Jacobs



The "geriatric", Aad Jacobs,

Chairman of Royal Dutch Shell plc


Hello John


The FT article today on Jacobs really beat me to it. I had wanted to write something similar to you on this fellow. I find it incredible that big companies hang on to these geriatrics. They have led such a sheltered life that they have become like the King who went naked. This is what you get when you surround yourself with sycophants and yes men and women.


Of course Jacobs cannot be blamed. When he was approached by a director of Shell that something was stinking on the reserves front, he interrupted his lunch for a few seconds to ask him ‘have you discussed this with your colleagues?’. Everyone knew that there was great tension in the top of Shell so his remark was ‘remarkable’. I guess the salmon was getting cold so he could not spend more time on this minor issue of bad reserves reporting. He had done what a chairman of the supervisory board had to do and continued with his lunch.


And now another disaster has been avoided by intervention of shareholders. Jacobs was quoted recently in a Dutch paper that he had ‘heard some rumblings from the shareholders’…..


Shell threw out many staff who could not adapt to the new behaviours. Perhaps Jacobs should join that crowd and start growing a rose garden or whatever, he is clearly not up to the modern business anymore. But who will tell him other than the FT or your site?


And you will understand there is no offence meant on me calling him a geriatric. I admire people like Maersk McKinney Moeller (96?), Frits Philips (100) and Alan Greenspan (82?) and Alfred Donovan (88) a lot. But they still have flexible minds and are not corrupted by kow towing sycophants. They invite and stimulate criticism in order to improve. They do not blame others to hide their own shortfall.


An avid reader of your site


Ps I have supplied below some extracts from the relevant FT article entitled: “Investor confrontation 'shocks' VNU chief”


"What happens now is that you have a system of checks and balances. For the older board members, who have had 15 or 20 years in management and 10 to 12 on a supervisory board, it will be very difficult to adapt. I think their eyes have been opened during the last few weeks."


Aad Jacobs, the 69-year-old VNU chairman whose illustrious career spans posts at Royal Dutch Shell and ING, was reportedly "shocked" to be confronted by investors barely half his age calling the shots over company strategy, recalls one Dutch chief executive: "It is not how he is used to being treated." 


Even where there continues to be resistance, time favours the investors, says Mr de Vries. VNU continued to claim its strategy had been correct even after abandoning it. Mr Jacobs accused shareholders of putting short-term interests above the long-term future of the company.


Mr de Vries says: "I don't think many people even in the corporate world support that view. He is a representative of the old way, and he is due to soon stand down."


Related article: Daily Telegraph: Investors stunned by Shell revelation




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Alfred Donovan has had business dealings with Shell stretching back almost 50 years. In the 1980’s & 90’s the sales promotion company he founded with his son, John (Don Marketing) created and supplied multimillion dollar national promotions for Shell on an international basis. He and his son probably hold the world record for suing Shell, having subsequently brought a series of court actions: five for breach of confidence or breach of contract, and two for libel. They have never lost a case against Shell. Details about the litigation are published on, the unique website owned by the Donovan’s. It contains the world’s largest collection of articles, news and reports focused on Royal Dutch Shell and its activities – astonishingly, over 6,000 web pages. Mr Donovan own and uses the registration to the dotcom domain name for Shell’s unified $200 billion (USD) company: Royal Dutch Shell Plc ( Shell made an unsuccessful attempt to seize it by instituting proceedings via the World Intellectual Property Organisation in May 2005. A WIPO panel gave a unanimous verdict in favour of Mr Donovan in August.

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