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Declaration on Corporate Governance
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 2021 fiscal year, ALTANA complied with the vast majority of the applicable recommendations and suggestions of the German Corporate Governance Code in the version of December 16, 2019. This especially applies to the recommendations concerning the composition of the Supervisory Board, 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 and Supervisory Board intend to again largely follow the recommendations and suggestions of the German Corporate Governance Code in the 2022 fiscal year.
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 Supervisory Board, together with the Management Board, addresses long-term planning for the succession of Management Board members and the structure of the Management Board in regular discussions between the Chairman of the Supervisory Board and the Chairman of the Management Board. An age limit of 65 years has been set for members of the Management Board. 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 in accordance with the German Codetermination Act, while the remaining six are shareholder representatives. Here, too, experience and expertise play an important role, as does independence. All six shareholder representatives – Dr. EngelBader, Ms. Doctor of Science h.c., Univ. Buckingham, Susanne Klatten, Professor Dr. Richter, Dr. Schulte, Dr. Trius, and Dr. Wolfgruber – are independent of the company and the Management Board. Despite having been a member of the Supervisory Board for more than twelve years, Ms. Klatten is considered independent of the company and the Management Board because she is indirectly the company’s sole shareholder. Four of the six shareholder representatives – Dr. Engel-Bader, Dr. Schulte, Dr. Trius, and Dr. Wolfgruber – are independent of the company’s controlling shareholder. They are normally elected for a period of five years. An age limit of 70 years has been set for members of the Supervisory Board. 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 and the Consolidated 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. Matthias L. Wolfgruber. The Human Resources Committee also includes Mr. Jürgen Bembenek, Mr. Ulrich Gajewiak, and Ms. Doctor of Science h.c., Univ. Buckingham, Susanne Klatten. In addition to the Chairman, the members of the Mediation Committee are Mr. Gajewiak, Ms. Klatten, and Mr. Klaus Koch. 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. The other members of the Audit Committee are Mr. Armin Glashauser, Mr. Stefan Soltmann, and Dr. Antonio Trius.
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. For Management Board members, 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 in the complete 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, 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.
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, a system through which business partners who support ALTANA’s holding company and its subsidiaries in terms of sales or in their cooperation with authorities are investigated for certain compliance risks with IT support.
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 Whistleblowing System, ALTANA provides another central means of ensuring compliance. It gives employees as well as external third parties the possibility of anonymously reporting compliance violations. The ALTANA Compliance Hotline, which was made available for this purpose in previous years, was replaced by the more comprehensive ALTANA Whistleblowing System in 2021 against the backdrop of the EU Whistleblower Directive, which provides better protection in particular for those who give the tip. This simultaneously increases the benefit of such tips for the company.
Once a year, the Audit Committee of the Supervisory Board 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 in 2010, ALTANA has not only acknowledged its principles but also shown a general commitment to support and promote overall UN aims.
Targets for the Proportion of Women (Section 289 f (4), Sentence 1, Subsection 2, No. 4 of the German Commercial Code)
Pursuant to sections 76 (4) and 111 (5) of the German Stock Corporation Act, the Management Board and Supervisory Board of ALTANA AG set targets for the proportion of women in the two management levels below the Management Board, and on the Supervisory Board and Management Board. Most recently, the Supervisory Board and the Management Board resolved the following targets for the proportion of women by the end of June 30, 2023: 33% of Supervisory Board members, 0% of Management Board members, 30% of the first and 30% of the second management level below the Management Board.
Overall Assessment of Our Business Performance and Business Situation
After the pandemic-related declines in business performance in 2020, 2021 was characterized by an extraordinarily strong demand-driven business development. At ALTANA, this was reflected in double-digit sales growth and high capacity utilization, which continued throughout the year. However, bottlenecks in raw material availability and logistics services, which came to a head from the second quarter of 2021 onward, and the resulting price increases, some of which jumped sharply, put considerable pressure on margins, which could be partially offset by sales price adjustments. Overall, ALTANA achieved its highest earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) to date. The earnings margin was within our strategic target range. We also achieved our goals in the area of occupational safety and climate protection in 2021. At the same time, we continued to press ahead with our strategic activities to develop medium- to long-term growth areas and with the digital transformation.
Our balance sheet continues to show a very solid structure at the end of 2021 and offers sufficient financial headroom for investments in sustainable profitable growth.