STANDARD LIFE INVESTMENTS has voted against the appointment of EY as auditors of Royal Dutch Shell at the FTSE 100 oil giant’s annual general meeting.
The global asset manager previously raised questions over the appointment of EY amid concerns over conflicts of interest and auditor independence issues following the takeover of BG Group by Shell.
Standard Life was among the 7% of shareholders who voted against the motion to appoint EY in Shell’s AGM yesterday. Some 92.41% of investors voted in favour of EY’s appointment.
EY was appointed as Shell’s auditor in for the financial year 2016 and had already been serving as BG Group’s auditor since 2013. BG Group was merged with Shell in a £36bn deal in February. EY’s lead partner Allister Wilson was the also the lead partner for BG immediately prior to the takeover.
In a statement this week, Standard Life said it was concerned “that the interests of shareholders in both companies were adequately addressed”.
“Shell’s appointment of the audit partner at EY who was responsible for the BG Group audit, compounds the perception of conflicts of interest that we highlighted at Shell’s 2015 AGM,” it said.
“Standard Life Investments is a substantial investor in Shell and BG, and it is our view that the objectivity of Shell’s proposed auditor could indeed be impaired by their prior connection with BG.”
A Shell spokesman said: “EY was appointed as Shell’s auditor for the financial year 2016 following an extensive competitive tender, in line with industry best practice. Over 92% of shareholders supported the appointment at our 2016 AGM. We have full confidence in EY’s suitability for the role.”
EY said it was unable to comment.
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