Royal Dutch Shell and its supporters have insisted the £36bn acquisition of BG Group will go through after a major shareholder said he would vote against the tie-up.
Standard Life Investments' head of equities David Cumming told the BBC he would be voting against the deal on 27 January, calling the acquisition "destructive" for Shell shareholders.
But Shell countered: "We continue to believe we have the broad base of shareholder support we need for the deal to complete."
And Richard Marwood, UK equity fund manager at AXA Investment Managers, a top 20 investor in both companies, told City A.M.: “We still think it makes sense to put the companies together, though there is perhaps an argument that the price has swung more in BG’s favour.”
Marwood admitted, however, that "if the oil price neared $20 by the time of the vote it could throw it off.”
James Maltin, investment director at Rathbones, a shareholder in both companies, said: “The deal is looking better for BG and less good for Shell, but we think the oil price will rise and the deal will make sense when it does."
The oil price has dropped 40 per cent since the deal was announced in April last year. Analysts at Morgan Stanley joined a growing chorus yesterday in warning the oil price could fall as low as $20 per barrel.
Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, fell to lows not seen since April 2004 yesterday, trading around $31.43 per barrel. Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Bank of America Merrill Lynch have all forecast oil prices dropping to around $20 a barrel.
Nonetheless, Institutional Shareholder Services, a proxy advisory body, has recommended that investors vote in favour of the deal, as has US shareholder adviser Glass Lewis.