Responsible corporate governance that is geared to sustained value creation and preservation is the benchmark of all actions of the Executive Board and Supervisory Board of RATIONAL AG and the cornerstone of the company’s success. The following is the Executive Board’s and Supervisory Boards’ report on corporate governance at RATIONAL in accordance with our corporate governance principles, number 3.10 of the German Corporate Governance Code and sections 289f and 315d of the Handelsgesetzbuch (HGB, German Commercial Code). The report is supplemented by the remuneration report, which is part of the Company’s management report.
Responsible, sustainable, and socially aware actions have always been a basic element of the corporate culture of RATIONAL AG. This also includes integrity in dealings with customers, employees, business partners, shareholders, and the public.
By compliance, RATIONAL understands the meaning to be adherence to legislation, laws and the Articles of Association, together with observance of other internal regulations. In addition, RATIONAL AG continued to develop its own corporate governance in fiscal year 2019, which largely complies with the rules of the Code as amended and published in the Federal Gazette on 24 April 2017. Other voluntary commitments exist in the form of compliance agreements with a number of our chain customers. The Company has developed a comprehensive philosophy and has management principles that are set down in writing. It also has a Code of Conduct that applies throughout the Group. The corporate philosophy stresses the self-image of the Company, its executive bodies and employees. There are also recommendations on how to behave in dealings with customers, partners and colleagues.
Since 2012, the Compliance organisation has been continuously further developed. The starting point for compliance activities is the RATIONAL AG Code of Conduct, which has been summarized in the form of RATIONAL rules of conduct in business and communicated throughout the Company. A RATIONAL compliance team was set up and a Compliance Officer appointed for the entire RATIONAL Group.
Based on the results of compliance risk analyses, actions were defined to counter all material compliance risks. In addition to applicable internal compliance rules, these measures also include cooperation with qualified local partners. Moreover, the local requirements for a compliance programme are continuously monitored in countries where RATIONAL has its own subsidiaries and employees and, where necessary, adapted to the existing compliance programme. All employees at the RATIONAL Group receive training on compliance topics. Employees with no computer access must also pass a test.
An audit of the risk management system and the design of the compliance management system in accordance with the auditing standards of the Institute of Public Auditors in Germany confirmed the functional capability of both systems.
In 2019, both the compliance management system and the risk management system were strategically continued on the basis of the existing concepts.
The General Meeting of Shareholders is chaired by the Chairman of the Supervisory Board or another member of the Supervisory Board appointed by the Chairman.
Around 750 shareholders, representatives of the press and guests attended the General Meeting of Shareholders in Augsburg on 15 May 2019. Just under an imputed 91% of the share capital was represented. All resolutions on the agenda were approved by the General Meeting of Shareholders with a large majority.
RATIONAL AG is an Aktiengesellschaft (joint stock corporation) under German law. A basic principle of German corporation law is the dual system of management, comprising an executive board and a supervisory board, each of which has its own autonomous areas of responsibility.
The Executive Board and Supervisory Board of RATIONAL AG cooperate closely and on a basis of trust in the management and monitoring of the Company. Full details of the cooperation between the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board are given in the Supervisory Board’s report.
The members of the Executive Board bear joint responsibility for the overall management of the Company. They cooperate closely with one another and exchange information about important actions and procedures taking place within their divisions. Each member of the Executive Board is responsible for the divisions assigned to them on the basis of Executive Board resolutions. The Executive Board generally reaches decisions in meetings, which are held every three weeks. In addition, every member of the Executive Board can call a meeting by announcing the item on the agenda. Likewise, every member can request that a topic be included in the agenda for a meeting. Decisions by the Executive Board are always reached by a simple majority of votes cast by all of its members.
The Executive Board keeps the Supervisory Board comprehensively informed in good time, verbally and in writing as well as in regular meetings about planning, business development and the position of the Company, including risk management.
The Executive Board of RATIONAL AG can consist of one or more persons. It had four members as at the balance sheet date. The assignment of division responsibility to the individual members is detailed in the executive organization chart. The members of the Executive Board at the balance sheet date were Dr Peter Stadelmann (Chief Executive Officer, Human Resources, Legal and the Digital Customer Solutions business unit), Peter Wiedemann (Chief Technical Officer), Dr Axel Kaufmann (Chief Financial Officer) and Markus Paschmann (Chief Sales Officer). Dr Axel Kaufmann resigned from the RATIONAL AG Executive Board effective 31 December 2019. No external appointment for the position of Chief Financial Officer took place. From 1 January 2020, Dr Stadelmann assumed the duties of the Chief Financial Officer alongside his other responsibilities. He remains the Chief Executive Officer.
The members of the Executive Board do not perform any Supervisory Board duties in other listed companies.
No conflicts of interest occurred in the past fiscal year.
The Supervisory Board advises and monitors the Executive Board in the management of the Company. It is involved in strategy and planning as well as in all matters of fundamental importance for the Company. For significant business transactions — such as the annual planning and major investments — the Supervisory Board may exercise its right to veto stipulated in the rules of procedure for the Executive Board. The Chairman of the Supervisory Board coordinates the work in the Supervisory Board, chairs its meetings and looks after the interests of the Board in its external dealings.
In the case of significant events, an extraordinary meeting of the Supervisory Board is convened if necessary. For its work, the Supervisory Board has set itself rules of procedure.
Details of the focus of the Supervisory Board’s activities and advice in the year under review are given in the Report by the Supervisory Board.
The Supervisory Board formed an Audit Committee in 2015. Its members are Dr Hans Maerz (Committee Chairman), Mr Walter Kurtz and Mr Erich Baumgärtner. The Supervisory Board does not believe that the establishment of a nomination committee is necessary. With a seven-member Supervisory Board, efficient discussions and lively exchanges of views on suitable candidates for nomination by the Supervisory Board to the General Meeting of Shareholders can also be held in the plenary session. Moreover, the fact that the Supervisory Board of RATIONAL AG is not subject to co-determination obviates the need to form a nomination committee that consists exclusively of shareholder representatives.
By resolution of the General Meeting of Shareholders on 29 April 2015, article 8 (6) sentence 1 of the Articles of Association of RATIONAL AG was amended. The wording of the resolution is as follows: “For as long as Mr Siegfried Meister and Mr Walter Kurtz are shareholders of the company, they shall have the joint right to appoint up to two members of the Supervisory Board. If one of the two holders of the right to appoint ceases to be a shareholder of the company, the remaining shareholder shall have the sole right to appoint. The right to appoint shall be exercised by submitting a written declaration to the Executive Board of the company.”
Under the Articles of Association, as amended by resolution of the General Meeting of Shareholders on 15 May 2019, the Supervisory Board of RATIONAL AG has seven members who are elected by the shareholders.
Mr Walter Kurtz is the Chairman of the Supervisory Board and Dr Hans Maerz is his deputy. Also on the Supervisory Board are Mr Erich Baumgärtner, Dr Johannes Würbser, Dr Gerd Lintz and Mr Werner Schwind, proven experts in finance, business law, sales and technology. As a proven technical expert, Dr Georg Sick rounds off the skills profile of the Supervisory Board of RATIONAL AG.
This body has five independent members (Dr Hans Maerz, Mr Erich Baumgärtner, Dr Gerd Lintz, Mr Werner Schwind and Dr Georg Sick) who have no material business or personal relationship with the company or its Executive Board, and the Supervisory Board considers this to be a sufficient number. The current term of office of all incumbent Supervisory Board members will expire at the ordinary General Meeting of Shareholders in 2024.
Supervisory Board members are proposed for election exclusively on the basis of their special skills and qualifications. Other attributes, such as gender, age, nationality or length of membership of the Supervisory Board of RATIONAL AG, have not been and will not be of any consequence for this decision. The Supervisory Board of RATIONAL AG has set itself a target concerning the proportion of women in the Supervisory Board within the meaning of the German Act on Equal Participation of Women and Men in Executive Positions in the Private and the Public Sector (Gesetz für die gleichberechtigte Teilhabe von Frauen und Männern an Führungspositionen in der Privatwirtschaft und im öffentlichen Dienst) and has published this target in this report (see below). Beyond that, the Supervisory Board of RATIONAL AG will not set any concrete objectives for its composition in accordance with number 5.4.1 (2) of the German Corporate Governance Code and will not report on this in the Declaration of Corporate Governance in accordance with number 5.4.1 (3) of the Code.
No conflicts of interest occurred in the past fiscal year.
RATIONAL AG is a listed company, but it is not subject to parity co-determination. This means that, under the German Act on Equal Participation of Women and Men in Executive Positions in the Private and the Public Sector, the introduction of a 30% ratio for women in the Supervisory Board of RATIONAL AG is not binding. However, the company’s listing on the stock exchange requires the company to specify targets for increasing the percentage of women in the Supervisory Board, Executive Board and on the two management levels below the Executive Board as well as to set deadlines for attaining these targets.
The executive Board and Supervisory Board of RATIONAL AG have set themselves the following new targets for the proportion of women in executive positions, thereby meeting their legal obligations:
On 15 May 2019, the General Meeting of Shareholders appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers GmbH Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft, Munich, as auditors of the financial statements and the consolidated financial statements for fiscal year 2019. The audit contract was awarded by the Supervisory Board.
Prior to the proposal being submitted to the General Meeting of Shareholders, the Supervisory Board obtained a declaration from the auditors on their personal and business relationships with the Company. This gave no rise to any objections. The Supervisory Board agreed with the auditors that the Chairman of the Supervisory Board would be notified immediately about disqualification or reasons for bias during the audit.
The auditors are additionally required to report separately on any major weaknesses detected during the audit in the accounting- related internal control and risk management system.
The lead auditor of the 2019 annual financial statements was Mr Jürgen Schumann.
The Executive Board issued a dependent company report pursuant to section 312 of the Aktiengesetz (AktG, German Stock Corporation Act). The auditors raised no objections to the dependent company report following the audit. Likewise, the Supervisory Board stated after examining the dependent company report that there are no objections to the declaration by the Executive Board at the end of the dependent company report.
The Executive Board and the Supervisory Board of RATIONAL AG, Landsberg am Lech, hereby declare in accordance with section 161 of the AktG that, since the last declaration of conformity was submitted in February 2019, the recommendations of the Government Commission for a German Corporate Governance Code (as amended and published in the Federal Gazette on 24 April 2017) have been and are being complied with, with the following exceptions:
Number 4.2.3 (2) sentence 3 of the Code:
Number 4.2.3: “Variable remuneration components generally have a multiple-year assessment basis that shall have essentially forward-looking characteristics.”
The variable components of Executive Board remuneration as agreed in the existing employment contracts with members of the Executive Board comprise various elements of the company’s long-term success, but do not specifically stipulate a multi-year assessment basis. The Supervisory Board of RATIONAL AG regards sustainable company development as a matter of course. In a continuous process, milestones for the annual variable remuneration components of the members of the Executive Board are derived from the corporate strategy.
Numbers 4.2.4 and 4.2.5 of the Code:
Number 4.2.4: “The total compensation of each one of the members of the Management Board is to be disclosed by name, divided into fixed and variable compensation components. The same applies to promises of benefits that are granted to a Management Board member in case of premature or statutory termination of the function of a Management Board member or that have been changed during the financial year. Disclosure is dispensed with if the General Meeting has passed a resolution to this effect by three-quarters majority.”
Number 4.2.5: “Disclosure shall be made in the Notes or the Management Report. A compensation report as part of the Management Report outlines the compensation system for Management Board members. The outline shall be presented in a generally understandable way.
The compensation report shall also include information on the nature of the fringe benefits provided by the company.
In addition, the remuneration report shall present the following information for every Management Board member:
The model tables provided in the appendix shall be used to present this information.”
On May 4, 2016, the General Meeting of Shareholders of RATIONAL AG resolved to dispense with the publication of individualised figures for Executive Board remuneration in accordance with section 286 (5) of the Handelsgesetzbuch (HGB, German Commercial Code). This resolution of the General Meeting will be in effect for five years. Disclosure of the variable remuneration broken down by short-term and long-term components will not be made.
Number 5.1.2 (1) sentence 2 and (2) sentence 3 of the Code:
Number 5.1.2 (1) sentence 2: “When appointing the Management Board, the Supervisory Board shall also respect diversity.”
Number 5.1.2 (2) sentence 3: “An age limit for members of the Management Board shall be specified.”
The Supervisory Board and Executive Board expressly welcome all efforts to counter any form of discrimination and to promote diversity in a reasonable manner. When appointing members of the Executive Board, the special skills and qualifications of the candidate are the only decisive criterion for the Supervisory Board. Other attributes such as gender or national identity have not been and will not be of any consequence for this decision.
No age limit has been specified for members of the Executive Board, and the Supervisory Board believes that this would not be in the interest of the Company. Executive Board members are appointed solely on the basis of their ability to run the Company successfully. Just because someone reaches a specific age does not generally mean that he or she loses this ability. Moreover, a rigid age limit could be discriminatory.
Number 5.3.3 of the Code (Formation of committees):
“The Supervisory Board shall form a nomination committee composed exclusively of shareholder representatives which recommends suitable Supervisory Board candidates for the proposals of the Supervisory Board to the General Meeting.”
The Supervisory Board formed an Audit Committee in 2015. The Supervisory Board does not believe that the establishment of a nomination committee is necessary. With a seven-member Supervisory Board, efficient discussions and lively exchanges of views on suitable candidates for nomination by the Supervisory Board to the General Meeting of Shareholders can also be held in the plenary session. Moreover, the fact that the Supervisory Board of RATIONAL AG is not subject to co-determination obviates the need to form a nomination committee that consists exclusively of shareholder representatives.
Number 5.4.1 (2) sentences 1 and 2 and (4) sent ences 1 and 2 of the Code:
Number 5.4.1 (2) sentence 1: “The Supervisory Board shall determine concrete objectives regarding its composition, and shall prepare a profile of skills and expertise for the entire Board.”
Number 5.4.1 (2) sentence 2: “Within the company-specific situation the composition of the Supervisory Board shall reflect appropriately the international activities of the company, potential conflicts of interest, the number of independent Supervisory Board members within the meaning of number 5.4.2, an age limit and a regular limit to Supervisory Board members’ term of office, both to be specified, as well as diversity.”
Number 5.4.1 (4) sentence 1: “Proposals by the Supervisory Board to the General Meeting shall take these targets into account, while simultaneously aiming at fulfilling the overall profile of required skills and expertise of the Supervisory Board.”
Number 5.4.1 (4) sentence 2: “The implementation status shall be published in the Corporate Governance Report.”
The composition of the Supervisory Board of RATIONAL AG is guided by the Company’s interests and guarantees that the Executive Board is effectively monitored and advised. The candidates for election to the Supervisory Board are selected exclusively on the basis of knowledge, skills and experience. Other attributes such as gender or national identity have not been and will not be of any consequence. No age limit has been specified for Supervisory Board members, nor has a regular limit of length of membership of the Supervisory Board. Nominations to the General Meeting of Shareholders are based exclusively on the knowledge, skills and experience of the candidates in question. The intention is to continue to abide by this policy in future in order to retain experience and skills for the benefit of the Company.
Landsberg am Lech, 29 January 2020