Top Stories

May 19, 2022


Shell executive faces investor rebellion over £13.5m pay package

The chief executive of Shell is facing an investor revolt over his £13.5 million pay packet, as oil and gas firms battle growing calls for a windfall tax on profits. The investment advisor Pirc has urged shareholders to vote against the company’s AGM, calling it “excessive”. Shell’s executive – Ben Van Beurden – was awarded £6.3 million in 2021, up from £5.2 million in 2020. The company has given him a 3.5% increase in salary to £1.42 million with an opportunity to receive an additional £12.1 million in cash and shares by hitting company targets. Pirc said the salary was in the top 25% of a peer comparator group “which raises concerns over the excessiveness of their pay”. Van Beurden previously suffered a shareholder revolt over his £8 million pay packet in 2018. (The Guardian)


Cost of living crisis becomes greatest worry for UK Millennials and Gen Z

A survey has found that the cost of living crisis has overtaken climate change as the leading concern for UK Millennials and Gen Z for the first time. Conducted by financial services company Deloitte, the survey found that 38% of Millennials and 31% of Gen Zs felt more anxious about the impact of surging prices than anything else, with around half of Gen Zs and Millennials saying they worry their monthly income will not be able to cover all their expenses. The survey findings come as UK inflation hit a 40-year high of 9% in April 2022, more than any other G7 economy, and expected to rise further to over 10% in the autumn. With state benefits rising only 3.1% in April, inflation has created big real-term cuts to living standards. (Evening Standard; Financial Times*)


Microsoft seeks to dodge EU cloud computing probe with service changes

Technology company Microsoft will revise its licencing deals and make it easier for cloud service providers to compete as it seeks to dodge a lengthy EU antitrust probe into its cloud computing business. Microsoft was fined $1.7 billion by EU antitrust regulators in the previous decade for various violations. The company recently found itself under the EU competition body’s scrutiny again after a series of European cloud service providers complained to the European Commission about Microsoft’s cloud practices. Microsoft will seek to revise its licencing deals and allow customers to use their licences on any European cloud provider delivering services to their own datacentres. Customers will also be allowed to buy licences just for the virtual environment without the need to buy the physical hardware. (Reuters)


Finance giants ‘concerned’ at reports that UK Taxonomy will include gas

Reports that the UK’s forthcoming finance taxonomy will categorise activities across the natural gas supply chain as ‘green’ have sparked widespread backlash across the green economy. Ministers expect the Taxonomy to be published by the end of 2022, by which point all activities labelled as ‘environmentally sustainable’ would need to “do no harm” regarding emissions mitigation and climate adaptation. Investor representative coalition the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF) has stated that the government’s reported position on natural gas extraction as green is “extremely concerning”. The association represents more than 270 organisations including banks, financial advisory firms, investors and pension funds with over £10 trillion in assets under management. UKSIF referenced the EU’s recent experience with its taxonomy as evidence to omit natural gas inclusion in the UK taxonomy. (edie)


EU prepares to sell more carbon permits to pay for exit from Russian gas

Brussels wants to raise €20 billion to fund the EU’s exit from Russian energy by selling surplus carbon emissions permits, a move that risks making it cheaper to burn fossil fuels. The European Commission is hoping to auction off part of a stock of Emissions Trading Scheme certificates which will allow permit holders to emit more carbon. This will finance part of the Commission’s plan to invest €200 billion in European infrastructure and alternative supplies by the end of the decade to shift away from its dependence on Russian energy. However, selling additional permits would drive down carbon prices, an act contentious among some EU states as it would lower the cost of using coal, oil and gas. The plan may also compromise Europe’s Fit for 55 emissions reduction goal. (Financial Times)*

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