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Shell Shareholders Back BG Merger; BG to Vote Thursday

The proposed merger of Royal Dutch Shell plc and BG Group plc cleared one of the final hurdles Wednesday when more than 83% of Shell's shareholders voted in favor of the cash-and-stock deal, now valued at about $50 billion, to create a global energy giant.

Shell's shareholders met at The Hague to consider a resolution approving its acquisition of BG. Shell said it received more than 3.27 billion votes (83.1%) in favor of the merger, while about 666.3 million (16.9%) were opposed.

BG shareholders are scheduled to vote on the merger on Thursday. Should they follow suit, the deal could be finalized on Feb. 15, but Shell said acquisition is still subject to satisfying customary closing conditions, including approval by the High Court of Justice in England and Wales.

"Our immediate focus is on the successful completion of the transaction and we now await the results of tomorrow's BG shareholder vote,” Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said.

Last month, Shell reduced its global capital spending for 2016 by $2 billion to $33 billion, citing low commodity prices and the upcoming merger (see Daily GPI, Dec. 23, 2015). The value of the merger, $70 billion when it was announced in April 2015, was also reduced last month by $17 billion (see Daily GPI, April 8, 2015).

Analysts have been divided over the merger's merits. Institutional Shareholder Services, a global proxy advisory firm, earlier this month said the deal was worth pursuing despite volatility in global spot oil prices (see Daily GPIJan. 8). Meanwhile, Edinburgh-based Standard Life Investments, a major Shell shareholder, announced on the same day that it was opposed to the tie-up

Regulators from Australia, Brazil, China and the European Union approved the proposed merger last year (see Daily GPI, Dec. 14, 2015).

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