Shell May Leave South Africa Amid BEE Partner Dispute, Risking Shareholder Investments

Shell May Leave South Africa Amid BEE Partner Dispute, Risking Shareholder Investments

  • Global oil giant Shell is reportedly wanting to leave South Africa over a dispute with its BBE partner, Thebe Investments
  • It's reported that Thebe wants billions for its stake in one of South Africa's biggest empowerment deals
  • Shell owns more than 600 petrol stations in South Africa and has been permitted by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy to explore for more mineral reserves

Trisha Pillay is a Briefly News current affairs journalist in Johannesburg. For 13 years, she has devoted her professional life to covering social issues and community news, sharing her expertise with newsrooms like The Citizen newspaper, African News Network, and Newzroom Afrika. Do you have a hard news story you would like to share? Email with CA in the subject line.

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Global oil giant plans its exit from South Africa
Shell is considering leaving South Africa following an internal dispute with its BEE partner. Images: Artur Widak
Source: Getty Images

JOHANNESBURG — Shell, a global oil giant, is gearing up to withdraw from South Africa after operating in the country for more than 120 years.

Shell plans to leave SA

According to the Sunday Times, the move follows a dispute between the oil giant and its long-term BEE partner, Thebe Investment Corporation, over an R3.7-billion stake in Shell Downstream South Africa.

The dispute began in 2022 when Thebe communicated to Shell, expressing its intention to activate its "opt-out" provision and sell its shares to reinvest the proceeds in expanding the company.

Thebe assessed its stake value using Shell's numbers, valuing its 28% stake in SDSA at $200 million (R3.7 billion). Despite this submission, Shell remained unresponsive for eight months. When it finally replied, it allegedly reversed its position on the figures, claiming that Thebe's stake held no value.

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According to reports, Shell Downstream declined to comment and released a statement on the matter:

"As a matter of policy and principle, Shell Downstream SA distances itself from speculation or rumours, particularly about confidential shareholder agreements and relationships. Out of respect for our partners and these agreements, we’re unable to provide any further comment currently.
"As a responsible company, we take our communication and stakeholder engagement commitments very seriously and will always proactively communicate through the appropriate channels and forums, as and when required to do so."

The global oil company has a significant presence in South Africa, operating over 600 fuel stations. Additionally, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy has permitted Shell to explore the country.

Mzansi uneasy

South Africans are uneasy about such a big international organisation planning to leave the country. Many blame the government for its lack of leadership and corruption scandals.

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Here are some of the reactions:

@Matured democracy commented:

"South Africa is getting torn apart by a negative outcome of all economic destructive policies of the ANC government."

@Lebogang Shuping shared:

"BEE, as currently structured, is meaningless to its original intent. It's become a privileged few rich scheme project."

@Sfiso Mshengu said:

"Handouts vs hard work. So many workers could lose their jobs."

@Gerhard Nel expressed:

"Another government idea bites the dust."

@Dewald Roux exclaimed:

"Another failure by this corrupt and useless government."

@Mandla Mvubu said:

"Shell pays those dividends."

Ekurhuleni Shell petrol attendant and motorist perform dance

In a related story, Briefly News reported about a vibey petrol attendant performing a lit dance-off with a motorist at a Shell garage in Ekurhuleni.

The popular petrol attendant shared the footage on his TikTok page, brightening people's day.

Thousands of people were amused by the duo, especially the cool motorist with his off-beat dancing.

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Source: Briefly News

Trisha Pillay avatar

Trisha Pillay (Weekend current affairs editor) Trisha Pillay is a Current Affairs writer at Briefly News. She has a degree in Journalism from the University of Johannesburg and an Honours degree in International Politics from UNISA. She joined ENCA straight out of varsity and completed an internship at the channel. Pillay later went on to cover politics, crime, entertainment, and current affairs at the Citizen Newspaper. She joined Newzroom Afrika in 2019 and became a senior bulletin editor for shows focused on politics and current affairs on the channel. She joined Briefly News in 2023. You can contact her at