Shell investors OK acquisition of BG Group

HOUSTON — Royal Dutch Shell shareholders on Wednesday authorized the $50 billion acquisition of British gas producer BG Group, after promises by executives to cut more overlapping costs amid falling oil prices.

The value of the cash-and-stock deal has fallen from more than $70 billion last April, when oil prices hovered near $60 a barrel and Shell and BG Group shares traded higher.

At a gathering in the Hague, 83 percent of Shell’s investors voted in favor of the deal, and 17 percent voted against it. BG Group investors will vote on Thursday, and if they approve the deal, it will close on Feb. 15.

Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said he was pleased by “the confidence that shareholders have shown in the strategic logic of the combination of Shell and BG.”

Shell will get access to BG Group’s large gas production and deep-water drilling businesses, which will expand Shell’s gas reserves by a quarter. But oil prices have fallen sharply since the merger was proposed.

In response to critics of the deal, Shell executives have said in recent months they would shake loose an extra $1 billion in savings from the BG Group takeover and the two firms would cut an additional 2,800 employees and direct contractors once the transaction closed. That’s on top of 7,500 job cuts Shell announced last year.