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THE HAGUE: Shell shareholders on Friday looked set to overwhelmingly back plans to switch the oil giant’s headquarters from the Netherlands to Britain after a century and drop Royal Dutch from the name.

Europe’s biggest energy firm says the move will simplify its tax and share arrangements, and speed up its transition from fossil fuels that cause climate change.

Preliminary results with nearly 58 percent of shares cast showed that 99.78 percent approved the plan, with full results due later Friday, Shell officials said at a general meeting in Rotterdam. The plan needs 75 percent overall majority to pass.

The Dutch government has said it was “unpleasantly surprised” by the plan, while Britain has hailed it as a vote of confidence in the British economy post-Brexit.

“The course we have laid out offers the maximum benefit with the minimum risk for shareholders,” Royal Dutch Shell chairman Andrew Mackenzie told a meeting of shareholders in Rotterdam’s Ahoy stadium.

“We have always been and will continue to be very proud of how important the Netherlands is to our heritage,” he added.

Mackenzie denied the move was motivated by a Dutch court ruling earlier this year that Shell must cut its emissions.

But he admitted a Dutch government decision to drop plans for the scrapping of a dividend tax on big companies was a factor.

Under the plans, Shell will switch its tax residence and top executives including CEO Ben van Beurden from The Hague to London. Its 8,500 staff in the Netherlands will remain.

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