Corporate Governance

The new Code of Conduct came into force on June 1, 2016. Adopting the motto “A success is only a success if it is achieved by fair and honest means,” the Code of Conduct further enhances the Metall Zug Group’s own understanding of corporate governance by laying out its basic values: sustainable and long-term value creation, excellence and integrity in its business practice. The Metall Zug Group complies with all the legal and regulatory requirements for corporate governance in Switzerland the Group is subject to, including the principles of the “Swiss Code of Best Practice for Corporate Governance” (Swiss Code), in the version issued by economiesuisse on September 29, 2014.

Group Structure

The operational group structure is illustrated on the site The Metall Zug Group. The management organization of the Metall Zug Group is generally based on decentralized responsibility.

The holding company, Metall Zug AG, headquartered in Zug, is the sole listed company in the Group. The type B registered shares are listed on the Swiss Reporting Standard of SIX Swiss Exchange, Zurich (securities number: 3 982 108, ISIN CH0039821084).

Capital Structure

Capital

The structure of the share capital and the ordinary capital is described on page 81 of the Annual Report 2017 (see note 20 “Shares”).

Shares

The type A registered shares with a par value of CHF 2.50 are not listed. The type B registered shares with a par value of CHF 25.00 are listed on the Swiss Reporting Standard of SIX Swiss Exchange, Zurich (securities number: 3 982 108, ISIN CH0039821084). Dividend entitlement is in proportion to the share capital held. Each share entitles the holder to one vote.

Limitations on Transferability and Nominee Registrations

In relation to the company, only those registered in the share register are recognized as shareholders. In accordance with Art. 10 of the Articles of Association, the transferability of registered shares is restricted as follows:

Acquirers of registered shares (of types A and B) are registered in the share register as shareholders with the right to vote, provided that:

  • the recognition of an acquirer as a shareholder, according to the information available to the company, does not or could not prevent the company and / or its subsidiaries from providing the evidence required by law regarding the composition of its shareholder group and / or beneficial owners. The company particularly reserves the right to refuse entry in the share register if acquirers do not prove that they are not foreign non-residents pursuant to the Federal Act of December 16, 1983, on the Acquisition of Immovable Property in Switzerland by Foreign Non-Residents (ANRA) and if the company considers such registration could obstruct, threaten or prevent the provision of statutory evidence regarding Swiss control of the company, and
  • they expressly declare that they have acquired the shares in their own name and for their own account.

In addition, the transfer of shares of type A is subject to approval by the Board of Directors in each instance. Approval can be denied for good cause, which includes:

  • keeping away buyers who operate a business that competes with the purpose of the company, who have a participating interest in such a business or who are employed by such a business;
  • ensuring that the company remains independent based on the voting-rights-related control of the group of current registered shareholders. Usually, spouses and descendants of the current circle of shareholders must be admitted;
  • acquiring or holding shares on behalf of third parties or in the interests of third parties.

Approval can also be denied without giving reasons, provided that the Board of Directors acquires the type A shares (for the account of the company, specific shareholders or third parties) at their actual value at the time when the request was submitted.

In the financial year 2017, the company did not refuse transfers or approve any exceptions for type A registered shares or type B registered shares.

Metall Zug AG does not provide registration of nominees. To date, no need has been expressed by shareholders for registration of this kind. For the procedure and conditions for canceling the restrictions on transferability, see section 6.2 of this Corporate Governance report.

Board of Directors

Members of the Board of Directors

An overview of the members is illustrated on the site Corporate Bodies.

The members of the Board of Directors did not belong to the Senior Management of Metall Zug AG nor to the Senior Management of a Group company in the three financial years preceding the reporting year, and they do not have any significant business connections with Metall Zug AG or the Metall Zug Group.

Other Activities and Vested Interests

Apart from the functions mentioned, none of the members of the Board of Directors has a permanent management or advisory function for an important interest group, nor an official function or political post.

Number of Permitted Additional Mandates (Board of Directors)

In accordance with Art. 25e of the Articles of Association, the number of permitted activities of the members of the Board of Directors and of Senior Management in the top supervisory or management bodies of legal entities that are obliged to be entered in the Commercial Register or in a corresponding foreign register, and which are not controlled by the company or do not control the company, is restricted as follows:

Members of the Board of Directors and of Senior Management:

  • Mandates in listed companies: 5
  • Mandates in other, non-listed legal entities with compensation: 15
  • Pro-bono mandates and mandates at professional or industry associations, which are basically held in the interests of the company: 10

Mandates are deemed to be mandates in the highest governance body of a legal entity. Mandates in a number of different legal entities under uniform control count as a single mandate. Insofar as the company holds an ownership interest in another company and a member of the Board of Directors or of Senior Management holds a mandate in such company on the instruction of and in the interests of the company, such a mandate does not count as an additional mandate. The figures above are cumulative; the mandate at Metall Zug has not been taken into account. In calculating the number of mandates, a chairmanship counts double. Members of Senior Management generally require the approval of the Board of Directors before taking up external mandates.

Elections and Terms of Office

Members of the Board of Directors are elected by the General Meeting of Shareholders, on an individual basis and for a period of one year in each case. They may be re-elected at any time, but must step down upon reaching the age of 70, i.e. on the date of the subsequent General Meeting of Shareholders. This does not apply to members of the Board of Directors who have been involved with the Metall Zug Group for less than six years at that time. They may be elected for up to nine years (Art. 18 of the Articles of Association).

The Chairman of the Board of Directors, the members of the Human Resources and Compensation Committee and the independent representatives are elected directly by the General Meeting of Shareholders for a term of one year (Art. 16a and 18 of the Articles of Association).

Internal Organizational Structure

According to the law, the Board of Directors holds the highest decision-making power and specifies, among other things, the organizational, financial-planning and accounting directives with which Metall Zug AG and the Metall Zug Group undertake to comply. Decisions are made by the entire Board of Directors with the assistance of the following two committees: the Audit Committee and the Human Resources and Compensation Committee. The latter is assigned all the duties and responsibilities imposed on compensation committees by the Ordinance of November 20, 2013, against Excessive Remuneration in Listed Companies Limited by Shares (ERCO). The Board of Directors of Metall Zug AG is responsible for overall supervision and exerts an influence on the strategic direction of the individual Business Units and subsidiaries, allocates the financial resources, appoints the members of Senior Management and is involved in the staffing of further top executive positions. It is supported in these tasks by the Audit Committee, the Human Resources and Compensation Committee and the Senior Management. The Board of Directors and the Senior Management may issue guidelines and recommendations to the subsidiaries for the purpose of realizing a coherent business policy.

The Board of Directors of Metall Zug AG has delegated the day-to-day management of the business to the Senior Management. The agenda items for the meetings of the Board of Directors are specified by the Chairman and prepared by the Secretary together with the Senior Management. Every member of the Board of Directors and every member of the Senior Management is entitled to request the summoning of a meeting, upon specification of the meeting’s purpose. As a rule, the members of the Board of Directors receive the invitation to the meeting no later than ten days prior to the meeting of the Board of Directors, along with the documentation that allows them to prepare for the discussion of the agenda items. Furthermore, the Board of Directors regularly takes decisions by circular vote.

Audit Committee

The Audit Committee makes an independent assessment of the quality of the annual financial statements and discusses these with Senior Management and the external auditors. The Audit Committee proposes to the Board of Directors whether the financial statements may be recommended for submission to the General Meeting of Shareholders. The Audit Committee nominates the internal auditors, determines the organization of the internal audit department, assigns tasks to it and forwards its reports to the entire Board of Directors. It sets up the audit plan, defines the audit scope for internal and external auditing and evaluates the cooperation between internal and external auditors and their effectiveness. The Audit Committee assesses the efficiency of the internal control system considering risk management and evaluates compliance with laws, regulations and accounting standards as well as adherence to internal rules and directives. It also assesses the external auditors’ performance and their remuneration. The Audit Committee ensures that the external auditors are independent and assesses the compatibility of their auditing function with any advisory mandates. The Audit Committee comprises Martin Wipfli, Chairman, and Marga Gyger. The external auditors and internal auditors also participate in the meetings of the Audit Committee. While the external and internal auditors and the CFO took part in all the meetings, other members of the Board of Directors and of Senior Management were represented as required for selected agenda items.

Human Resources and Compensation Committee

As well as performing the duties and responsibilities assigned to the Compensation Committee under the ERCO, the Human Resources and Compensation Committee develops the principles of corporate governance, which are then submitted to the Board of Directors for approval. This also includes periodic revision of the composition and size of the Board of Directors and its committees and of the board of directors of each subsidiary. In addition, the Committee proposes to the Board of Directors qualified candidates for the various bodies and also submits proposals to the Board of Directors regarding the compensation of the Board of Directors and Senior Management. It further develops and reviews the objectives and principles of human resources policy for approval by the Board of Directors, prepares the appointment of members of Senior Management and approves selected personnel decisions of the CEO. Finally, it reviews the basic structures in the area of the pension fund with regard to the scope and content of benefits, reviews the annual appraisal of the members of Senior Management conducted by the CEO, and keeps itself informed about employee development and HR succession planning. The Human Resources and Compensation Committee comprises Heinz M. Buhofer, Chairman, and Peter Terwiesch. The CEO and the CFO attend the Human Resources and Compensation Committee meetings as regular guests, except for topics related to themselves.

Definition of Areas of Responsibility

The Metall Zug Group is run as an industrial group of companies, in which operational responsibility for the management of the business and achievement of objectives of the Metall Zug Group rests with the CEO and Senior Management of Metall Zug AG. In principle, the Senior Management’s mandate is comprehensive. Even if an area of responsibility lies with the Board of Directors, the Senior Management is expected to take intellectual initiatives and to deal with emerging business opportunities until they are ready for a decision. Certain topics which are of relevance to an individual Business Unit only are delegated to the Board of Directors and Senior Management of the main company of the respective Business Unit  (V-ZUG AG, Belimed AG and Schleuniger Holding AG). Within each Business Unit, management generally takes place along reporting lines.

The Board of Directors has established Organizational Regulations for the purpose of allocating areas of responsibility between the Senior Management and the Board of Directors. There are Group Management Regulations which govern the organization of the Group as resolved by the Board of Directors, the organization, areas of responsibility and duties of Senior Management and of the boards of directors and senior management of the Business Units and subsidiaries. Furthermore, the Group Management Regulations govern fundamental aspects of compliance which apply to the entire Metall Zug Group and which constitute the legal basis for the issuing of further regulations applicable within the Metall Zug Group, or which refer to these regulations. The Group Management Regulations are supplemented by a comprehensive competency matrix, which defines the responsibilities and powers of the various bodies within the Metall Zug Group in general and for different business cases. To the extent that existing regulations at Business Unit or subsidiary level have not yet been adapted in line with the revised Organizational Regulations and the new Group Management Regulations, the latter prevail.

Information and Control Instruments vis-à-vis Senior Management

Detailed governance and management information is produced semi-annually in the Metall Zug Group in the form of separate financial statements (income statement, balance sheet and statement of cash flows) of the individual subsidiaries and consolidated financial statements of the Business Units of the Metall Zug Group. These are submitted to both the Audit Committee and the Board of Directors and commented on in detail by Senior Management. Depending on the size and the risks of the business, separate financial statements may also be produced either monthly or quarterly. The results are prepared for each Business Unit and are consolidated for the Metall Zug Group. In each case, results are compared to the prior-year period and to the budget. The achievability of budgets, which are integrated into rolling medium-term plans, is reviewed several times a year on the basis of forecasts. The managing directors or heads of each Business Unit submit regular reports on results and on the progress of budget achievement to the Senior Management of Metall Zug AG. The Board of Directors of Metall Zug AG receives, on a monthly basis, the key figures and written comments on other aspects of the operations of the Business Units and on the relevant market environment. In addition, key figures and brief commentaries on the course of business at the level of the Metall Zug Group are provided to the Board of Directors on a monthly basis. At meetings of the Board of Directors, Senior Management provides comprehensive information about the course of business in the Business Units and the Group.

The internal auditors conducted two audits in the reporting year. The results of each audit are discussed in detail with the corresponding companies and Business Units, and the key measures are agreed. The Chairman of the Board of Directors, members of the Audit Committee, members of Senior Management, and other line managers of the head of the audited unit receive a copy of each audit report. In addition, the reports and the key measures agreed are discussed by the Audit Committee. The internal audit unit is administratively subordinated to the CFO, but reports on functional issues to the Chairman of the Audit Committee.

The Metall Zug Group has put in place an appropriate system for monitoring and managing the risks associated with the company’s activities. Risk management is a structured process that basically comprises all hierarchical levels and involves risk identification, risk analysis, risk management and risk reporting. The Business Unit heads are responsible for monitoring and managing their risks at an operational level. In all Business Units, certain persons are assigned responsibility for significant individual risks. These persons are responsible for taking concrete measures to manage these risks and for monitoring their implementation. On behalf of the Audit Committee, a risk report is drawn up at regular intervals for submission to the Board of Directors.

In terms of insurance, the Metall Zug companies enjoy risk-compatible cover in line with the industry and are insured appropriately against operational risks such as damage to property, business interruption and third-party liability.

In terms of business risks, the Metall Zug Group deals with interest-rate and currency risks in addition to those set out under the risk management system above. Currency risks are basically evaluated on a decentralized basis by the subsidiaries and hedged on a case-by-case basis. As a rule, hedging transactions are approved by the CFO in line with the applicable regulations.

Senior Management

Members of Senior Management

The Senior Management of Metall Zug AG is illustrated on the site Corporate Bodies.

Number of Permitted Additional Mandates (Senior Management)

The number of permitted activities of the members of Senior Management in the top supervisory or management bodies of legal entities corresponds to the rules for members of the Board of Directors.

Shareholders’ Participation

Voting Rights and Representation Restrictions

All shareholders may attend the General Meeting of Shareholders in person to exercise their rights or act at the General Meeting of Shareholders through written proxy to a duly authorized person, who is also a shareholder, or the independent representative.

The independent representative is obliged to exercise the voting rights transferred to him by the shareholders in accordance with their instructions. Pursuant to Art. 16a of the Articles of Association, the Board of Directors ensures that shareholders have the opportunity to

  • submit instructions to the independent representative on every motion relating to agenda items mentioned in the invitation to the meeting,
  • submit general instructions to the independent representative regarding unannounced motions and new agenda items,
  • submit proxies and instructions electronically,

whereas the Board of Directors sets the rules for the procedure and deadlines for the electronic submission of proxies and instructions.

Statutory Quorums

In addition to the instances stated in Article 704 of the Swiss Code of Obligations (CO), resolutions on

  • the restriction of the transferability of registered shares and the easing or cancellation of such restriction,
  • the dissolution of the company by liquidation,

require the approval of at least two-thirds of the votes of the shares represented and the absolute majority of the share par value represented.

In all other instances, the General Meeting of Shareholders of Metall Zug AG adopts resolutions and holds elections by the majority of votes validly cast (excluding blank and invalid ballot papers) unless otherwise provided by law or the Articles of Association.

Convocation of the General Meeting of Shareholders

The General Meeting of Shareholders is convened by the Board of Directors or, where necessary, by the external auditors. The liquidators are also entitled to convene a general meeting.

Agenda Items

In principle, items are placed on the agenda in compliance with the legal provisions. Shareholders representing shares with a par value of at least one million Swiss francs may request in writing, and upon specification of the motion, inclusion of an item in the agenda within 50 days prior to the general meeting unless the company sets a different deadline by means of publication. The written request must be accompanied by a statement issued by a bank, confirming that the shares are deposited until after the General Meeting of Shareholders.

Entries in the Share Register

Only those registered shareholders who are listed in the share register as shareholders with the right to vote on a given cut-off date may exercise the right to vote at the General Meeting of Shareholders. The company’s new Articles of Association issued on May 5, 2017, no longer contain any rules regarding the cut-off date. It is determined by the Board of Directors and generally fixed for a date a few days prior to the General Meeting of Shareholders. The cut-off date is published along with the invitation to the General Meeting of Shareholders in the Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce (SOGC). There are no exceptions to the cut-off date rule.

Changes of Control and Defense Measures

Duty to Make an Offer

The duty to make a public offer to purchase in accordance with Articles 135 and 163 of the Financial Market Infrastructure Act has been waived (opting out).

Clauses on Changes of Control

In the event of a change of control, Metall Zug AG is not obliged to make any additional payments for the benefit of members of the Board of Directors, members of Senior Management or any other executives.