Oil giant Shell and its takeover target BG Group sent their top executives into the City yesterday to face questions over the proposed £47bn deal, a transaction that would create the largest company on the FTSE. However, one man was notable by his absence – BG’s chief executive Helge Lund, who was deemed so valuable a win for the company that they risked the ire of shareholders and corporate governance groups by offering him a golden hello of £25m when he was appointed last autumn.
Both BG chairman Andrew Gould and Shell chief exec Ben van Beurden said that “nothing should be read into” the fact that ex-Statoil boss Lund did not attend yesterday’s press conference.
Lund was similarly unavailable for several media conference calls.
Gould explained that Lund had stayed behind at the company’s headquarters in Reading to take care of internal communications and to call investors rather than making the journey into central London. “It’s really just the fact that BG has this location which is somewhat remote from central London, which is Reading,” he said.
When pressed on the issue, Gould appeared to blame the trains for Lund’s absence: “Do you know about British Rail, and the works being done at Reading station this weekend?”
Lund is to leave the company when the deal completes, before the end of 2016. He will reportedly receive £28m in payment for his time at BG.