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Good corporate governance is an essential basis for the sustainable success of ALTANA. Even as a company not listed on the stock exchange, ALTANA orients itself to the recommendations and suggestions of the German Corporate Governance Code.
At least once a year, the Supervisory and Management Boards deal with the German Corporate Governance Code and examine which recommendations and suggestions ALTANA can follow even as a company not listed on the stock exchange and sensibly apply within the company given its shareholder structure.
In the 2019 fiscal year, ALTANA complied with the vast majority of the applicable recommendations of the German Corporate Governance Code in the current version of February 7, 2017. This especially applies to the recommendations concerning the cooperation between the Management Board and the Supervisory Board, the cooperation between the Chairman of the Supervisory Board and the Supervisory Board plenum, dealings with conflicts of interest of the Supervisory Board members, the setting up and composition of the committees, as well as matters relating to the audit.
The Management Board dealt intensively with the amendments to the German Corporate Governance Code resolved on May 9, 2019, and December 16, 2019, as well as with the amendment to the German Stock Corporation Act by the Act Implementing the Second Shareholder Rights Directive (ARUG II), and in fiscal year 2020 intends to again chiefly orient itself to the recommendations and suggestions of the German Corporate Governance Code and the corporate governance regulations of the German Stock Corporation Act applicable to companies listed on the stock exchange.
Management and Control
The Management Board of ALTANA AG consists of three members, each of whom are appointed by the Supervisory Board for a period of five years. The selection criteria include experience, business and professional expertise, as well as competence in ecology and social responsibility. Considerations regarding diversity also play a role in the selection process. The Management Board manages the Group independently and is solely committed to the interests of the company. Together with the presidents of the divisions and selected heads of central functional areas, the Management Board forms the Executive Management Team. In regular meetings, this team discusses and analyzes the development of business and important business incidents, as well as plans for the Group’s future development and sustainability issues.
The company’s Supervisory Board has twelve members. Half of them are employee representatives, elected by Group employees in Germany in accordance with the German Codetermination Act. The remaining six members are basically elected by the Annual General Meeting. Experience and expertise, as well as independence, are also important criteria in the selection of the members of the Supervisory Board. They are normally elected for a period of five years. The Management Board reports to the Supervisory Board regularly, without delay, and comprehensively on all issues relevant for the company regarding business development, risks, and planning, and discusses ALTANA’s strategy with the Supervisory Board. Sustainability issues are also discussed regularly at the Supervisory Board meetings. The Supervisory Board monitors and advises the Management Board in its management activities. The Supervisory Board’s tasks also include approving the annual financial statements. Specially defined business decisions of the company, such as major acquisitions and divestments, require the approval of the Supervisory Board, in accordance with a list of transactions that are subject to authorization.
The Supervisory Board formed an Audit Committee, a Human Resources Committee, and a Mediation Committee, legally required in accordance with section 27 (3) of the German Codetermination Act. Each committee consists of two shareholder representatives and two employee representatives. The Chairman of the Human Resources Committee and the Mediation Committee is the Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Dr. Klaus-Jürgen Schmieder. Dr. Jens Schulte is the chairman of the Audit Committee. He has the necessary knowledge and expertise in the fields of accounting and auditing in accordance with the German Stock Corporation Act.
There is a D&O liability insurance scheme for members of the Management and Supervisory Boards. The insurance covers personal liability risks in the event that a claim is made against members of the Management and Supervisory Boards while they are performing their activities. The insurance contract stipulates a deductible of ten percent of the damages, but a maximum of one-and-a-half times the amount of the fixed annual compensation of the respective member of the Management or Supervisory Board per insurance year. Further information on the compensation of the Management and Supervisory Boards can be found on page 73 f. of the online Consolidated Financial Statements.
Compliance with laws is the basis for all of ALTANA’s actions. In addition, we set ourselves certain rules as part of our corporate social responsibility, which we adhere to like laws.
At ALTANA, compliance is an integral part of our corporate social responsibility. The trust of our customers, business partners, employees, and the public is the basis and condition for our business success.
For this purpose, ALTANA established a Compliance Management System in 2008. Its goal is to ensure that laws and the rules we have set ourselves are observed throughout the Group. To this end, the Compliance Management System identifies significant risks that can arise from violations of laws or regulations by ALTANA employees. The Compliance Management System also ensures that employees are aware of the content and significance of the laws and regulations relevant to them and know how to behave best in light of them. Furthermore, the Compliance Management System is intended to ensure that the necessary control mechanisms are implemented so that violations of laws and regulations can be detected and remedied. The Compliance Management System encompasses eight compliance areas: corruption, antitrust law, environmental protection and safety, human resources, customs and foreign trade, data protection, financial reporting, and taxes.
The ALTANA Compliance Management System follows the ALTANA structure and is therefore decentralized. The local management is primarily responsible for making sure that the individual subsidiaries and their employees behave in accordance with the rules. ALTANA AG lives up to its compliance responsibility by providing a framework, making competencies and instruments available, creating platforms and forums for local authorities, and by taking concrete measures to ensure compliance on the part of the management of subsidiaries or to impose minimum requirements, especially through guidelines that are binding Group-wide.
ALTANA’s Code of Conduct, which holds for the entire company, contains binding rules regarding responsible, ethical, and lawful behavior for all staff members. This applies in particular to issues such as corruption, conflicts of interest, antitrust law, environmental protection, and discrimination. Together with the company’s Guiding Principles, the Code of Conduct provides orientation for responsible corporate action. The Code of Conduct and the Guiding Principles are published on our website (www.altana.com). Since 2010, 12 Corporate Governance ALTANA’s employees have been trained with the help of an e-learning program regarding the content of the Code of Conduct and further issues relevant to compliance such as corruption and antitrust law. In 2018, around 4,200 employees completed the Code of Conduct training program.
Moreover, for each compliance area further specific measures have been developed and implemented to ensure that laws and internal regulations are adhered to. This includes, for example, an IT-assisted system with whose help business partners that support ALTANA AG and its subsidiaries in sales or in their cooperation are examined for potential compliance risks.
Another important element to guarantee the effectiveness of the Compliance Management System is the work of Internal Audit. For a few years now, compliance programs have been carried out regularly at ALTANA and its subsidiaries. With the ALTANA Compliance Hotline, ALTANA provides another central means of ensuring compliance. The latter gives employees and external third parties the possibility of anonymously reporting illegal behavior. Once a year, the Audit Committee receives a written report on compliance that is presented and discussed in a meeting of the committee in addition to the other proceedings. The report gives an overview of the risks identified for each compliance area, as well as already implemented or planned measures to advance the system. The Audit Committee is also informed about compliance violations in this context.
ALTANA joined the UN Global Compact initiative, whose members are voluntarily committed to adhering to social and environmental standards as well as the protection of human rights. By joining Global Compact, ALTANA has not only acknowledged its principles but also shown a general commitment to support and promote overall UN aims.