7. Declaration on Company Management
Principles of corporate governance
As a German public company listed on the stock exchange, the management of United Internet AG is primarily determined by the German Stock Corporation Act (AktG) and the rules of the German Corporate Governance Code (the “Code”).
The term Corporate Governance stands for responsible corporate management and control geared to long-term value creation. Efficient cooperation between Management Board and Supervisory Board, respect for stockholder interests, openness and transparency of corporate communications are key aspects of good corporate governance.
The Management Board and Supervisory Board of United Internet AG regard it as their duty to secure the Company's continued existence and sustainable value creation through responsible corporate governance focused on the long term.
The following report contains the “Declaration on company management”, in accordance with section 289f HGB for the parent company and in accordance with section 315d HGB for the Group, of the Management Board and Supervisory Board pursuant to Principle 22 of the Code.
Management and corporate structure
In accordance with its legal status, United Internet AG operates a dual management and monitoring structure comprising two corporate bodies: the Management Board and the Supervisory Board. The third body is the Shareholders’ Meeting. All three bodies are committed to serving the Company’s interests.
Working procedures of the Management Board
The Management Boardis the body charged with managing the Group’s operations. In fiscal year 2020, it consisted of two persons. The Management Board conducts operations in accordance with its legal and statutory obligations, as well as the rules of procedure adopted by the Supervisory Board, and the corresponding recommendations of the Code – unless deviations are declared pursuant to section 161 AktG.
The Management Board is responsible for preparing the Interim and Annual Financial Statements as well as for appointing key managers within the Company.
Decisions of fundamental importance require the approval of the Supervisory Board. The Management Board reports to the Supervisory Board in accordance with the statutory provisions of section 90 AktG and provides the Chairman of the Supervisory Board at least once a month with an oral overview – and at the request of the Chairman of the Supervisory Board also in writing – of the current status of relevant reporting items pursuant to section 90a AktG. The Chairman of the Supervisory Board is thus informed without delay by the Chairman or Speaker of the Management Board, or the Chief Financial Officer, about important events that are essential for assessing the Company’s situation and development, as well as for the management of the Company. Important items also include any substantial deviation from the budget or other forecasts of the Company. The Chairman or Speaker of the Management Board, or Chief Financial Officer, shall also inform the Chairman of the Supervisory Board, in advance where possible otherwise immediately thereafter, about all ad hoc announcements of the Company pursuant to Art. 17 MAR.
There is an age limit of 70 for members of the Management Board. This requirement is currently complied with in full.
The Management Board conducts the Company’s business with joint responsibility and according to common objectives, plans, and policies. Irrespective of the joint responsibility of the Management Board, each member bears responsibility for his assigned division, but is required to subordinate the interests of his assigned division to the overall good of the Company.
The full Executive Board regulates the division of responsibilities in a business distribution plan.
The Management Board members inform each other about important events within their divisions. Matters of greater importance which are not approved in the budget must be discussed and decided by at least two Management Board members, whereby one of the two Management Board members must be responsible for the Finance division.
Irrespective of their areas of responsibility, all Management Board members constantly monitor those data which are crucial for the Company’s business development so they are always able to help avert potential disadvantages, or implement desirable improvements and expedient changes by drawing them to the attention of the full Management Board.
The full Management Board resolves on all matters of particular importance and scope for the Company or its subsidiaries and investment companies.
Resolutions are adopted by the full Management Board with a simple majority. Should the vote result in a tie, the Chairman of the Management Board has a casting vote. The resolutions of the Management Board are recorded in the minutes.
The full Management Board meets regularly once a month and otherwise as required.
Each Management Board member immediately discloses any conflict of interest to the Chairman of the Supervisory Board and the Chairman of the Management Board or Speaker of the Management Board and informs the other Management Board member about it where necessary.
Current composition of the Management Board
The Management Board of United Internet AG comprised the following members in the fiscal year 2020:
Management Board members on December 31, 2020
- Ralph Dommermuth Company founder and Chief Executive Officer (with the Company since 1988)
- Martin Mildner, Chief Financial Officer(with the Company since October 1, 2020)
Departed in the fiscal year 2020
- Frank Krause, Chief Financial Officer (Management Board member from July 1, 2015 to September 30, 2020)
Working procedures of the Supervisory Board
The Supervisory Board elected by the Annual Shareholders' Meeting consisted of three members until July 23, 2020. As of July 24, 2020, the Supervisory Board consists of six members in accordance with the resolutions of the Annual Shareholders' Meeting of May 20, 2020. The members of the Supervisory Board are generally elected for a period of five years.
In accordance with German law, the Company’s articles, its rules of procedure, and the corresponding recommendations of the Code – unless deviations are declared pursuant to section 161 AktG – the Supervisory Board is in regular contact with the Management Board and monitors and advises it with regard to the management of business, and the Company’s risk and opportunity management system.
The Supervisory Board meets at regular intervals to discuss with the Management Board all matters of relevance to the Company regarding strategy and its implementation, as well as planning, the development of business, the risk position, risk management, and compliance. Together with the Management Board, it discusses the quarterly statements and half-year reports before publication and approves annual budgets. It examines the Annual Financial Statements of the parent company and the Group and adopts them if it has no reservations. In doing so, it also takes the reports of the Company’s external auditors into account.
The Supervisory Board’s responsibilities also include appointing members of the Management Board, as well as determining and regularly monitoring their remuneration in compliance with the latest legal regulations and recommendations of the Code – unless deviations are declared pursuant to section 161 AktG.
When appointing members of the Management Board, the Supervisory Board strives to achieve the best possible, diverse and mutually complementary composition for the Company and pays attention to long-term succession planning. Experience and industry knowledge as well as professional and personal qualifications play a particularly important role.
As part of its long-term succession planning, the Supervisory Board, with the involvement of the Management Board, regularly discusses highly skilled executives who could be considered as potential candidates for Management Board positions.
The Supervisory Board conducts regular tests to assess its own efficiency. In accordance with Recommendation D.13 of the German Corporate Governance Code, the Supervisory Board regularly assesses how effectively it performs its duties as a body. For this purpose, the Supervisory Board carries out a self-assessment by means of questionnaires every two years or so. The results of the survey are evaluated anonymously and then discussed in a plenary meeting. Any need for improvement revealed in the process is addressed. The next self-assessment is planned for spring/summer 2021.
The members of the Supervisory Board complete the training and further education measures required for their tasks on their own, but receive appropriate support in this context from the Company.
The Supervisory Board is convened at least twice every half of a calendar year. Supervisory Board meetings are convened in writing by its Chairman at least 14 days in advance.
When meetings are convened, the Supervisory Board members are informed of the agenda items. If an agenda item has not been properly announced, a resolution concerning it may only be adopted if no Supervisory Board member objects prior to the vote.
Resolutions of the Supervisory Board are generally adopted at meetings held with physical attendance. However, it is permissible for meetings of the Supervisory Board to be held in the form of a video or telephone conference call or for individual members of the Supervisory Board to be connected by video or telephone call and, in such cases, for resolutions to be adopted or votes to be cast by video or telephone conference call. Meetings are chaired by the Chairman of the Supervisory Board. If so arranged by the Chairman, resolutions may also be adopted outside of meetings by other means, for example by phone or e-mail, if no member objects to this procedure.
The Supervisory Board has a quorum if all members have been officially invited and at least three members participate in the resolution. A member shall also be deemed to participate in a resolution if he abstains from voting.
Unless the law prescribes otherwise, resolutions of the Supervisory Board are adopted with a simple majority.
Minutes are kept of the Supervisory Board’s discussions and resolutions.
The Chairman of the Supervisory Board is authorized to submit on behalf of the Supervisory Board the declarations of intent required for the implementation of the Supervisory Board’s resolutions.
Targets for the composition of the Supervisory Board / status of implementation
The Company’s Supervisory Board aims to achieve a composition of the Supervisory Board that enables qualified supervision and advice for the Company’s Management Board.
In view of
- the size of the Supervisory Board,
- the business in which the Company operates,
- the size and structure of the Company,
- the scope of the Company’s international activities, and
- its current shareholder structure,
the Company’s Supervisory Board has adopted the following targets for its future composition. These take into account the statutory requirements both with regard to the requirements placed on individual Supervisory Board members and with regard to the composition of the entire Supervisory Board and – unless expressly stated otherwise – the requirements of the Code. In particular, a skills profile is planned with regard to the overall body.
The Supervisory Board will take these targets into account in the case of nomination proposals and make sure that the candidates meet the respective requirements. The specific situation of the Company must be taken into consideration.
Requirements for individual members
The Company’s Supervisory Board aims to ensure that each Supervisory Board member meets the following requirements:
General requirement profile
Each member of the Supervisory Board should have the requisite knowledge and experience to enable them to carefully monitor and advise the Company and to assess any risks for the Company's business. Moreover, the Supervisory Board will ensure that all its members have a personal profile that enables them to maintain the Company’s public reputation.
All members of the Supervisory Board must have sufficient time to exercise their duties with due care throughout the entire period of office. In particular, the members of the Supervisory Board should observe the legal requirements and those of the Code regarding the permissible number of Supervisory Board mandates.
Conflicts of interest
Supervisory Board members should not engage in any other activities likely to cause frequent conflicts of interest. These include management positions with key competitors.
Age limit for Supervisory Board members
As a rule, members of the Supervisory Board should not have reached the age of 70 at the time of their election or re-election.
Requirements regarding the composition of the Supervisory Board as a whole
In addition to the individual requirements for Supervisory Board members, the Company’s Supervisory Board aims to ensure that the Supervisory Board as a whole meets the following requirements:
Skills profile for the Supervisory Board as a whole
The members of the Supervisory Board must collectively have the knowledge, skills, and professional experience necessary for them to carry out their tasks as required. The Supervisory Board strives to ensure that the Supervisory Board as a whole covers the widest possible range of knowledge and experience relevant to the Company, and in particular meets the following requirements:
- In-depth knowledge and experience of the telecommunications and internet sector;
- Expertise or experience from other sectors of the economy;
- Entrepreneurial or operational experience;
- At least one member with several years of experience working abroad or working for a company with international activities;
- At least one member with special knowledge and experience in the application of accounting principles and internal control processes;
- In-depth knowledge and experience of controlling and risk management;
- In-depth knowledge and experience in the field of governance and compliance.
The Supervisory Board aims to ensure that the Supervisory Board is composed of a wide variety of members so that the Supervisory Board as a whole has sufficient diversity of opinion and knowledge. In its nominations, the Supervisory Board will take into account the diversity concept established by the Company.
The Supervisory Board aims to ensure that at least four of its six members are also independent within the meaning of the criteria set out in the recommendations of the Code.
Current composition of the Supervisory Board/implementation status
The Supervisory Board of United Internet AG comprised the following members in the fiscal year 2020:
Supervisory Board members on December 31, 2020
- Kurt Dobitsch, chair (since 1998)
- Michael Scheeren, deputy chair (from May 2002 to May 2020 and since July 2020)
- Dr. Claudia Borgas-Herold (since May 2020)
- Dr. Manuel Cubero del Castillo-Olivares (since May 2020)
- Philipp von Bismarck (since July 2020)
- Prof. Dr. Yasmin Mei-Yee Weiß (since July 2020)
Departed in the fiscal year 2020
- Kai Uwe Ricke (from February 2008 to May 2020)
The Supervisory Board believes that all six members of the current Supervisory Board, Dr. Borgas-Herold and Prof. Dr. Weiß as well as Mr. Dobitsch, Mr. Scheeren, Mr. von Bismarck and Dr. Cubero del Castillo-Olivares, are also independent within the meaning of Recommendation C.7 of the German Corporate Governance Code. This assessment is not contradicted by the fact that Messrs. Scheeren and Dobitsch have been members of the Supervisory Board for more than twelve years. According to Recommendation C.7 of the German Corporate Governance Code, long-term membership of the Supervisory Board is merely an indicator of a possible lack of independence. When assessing the independence of Supervisory Board members, it is necessary to take an overall view of the circumstances in each individual case, detached from the formal typifying indicators of the German Corporate Governance Code. There are no indications that Messrs. Scheeren and Dobitsch are subject to a conflict of loyalties or roles. No significant or temporary conflicts of interest have come to light in the Supervisory Board's work in recent years. Messrs. Scheeren and Dobitsch continue to show a strong interest in effective corporate governance and sustainable corporate success.
Subject to the formation of short fiscal years, the current term of office of the Supervisory Board members ends on expiry of the Annual Shareholders' Meeting of the year 2025.
Targets for the share of women on the Supervisory Board, Management Board, and in management positions / implementation status
The “Law on Equal Participation of Men and Women in Private-Sector and Public-Sector Management Positions” (FührposGleichberG) of April 24, 2015 resulted in amendments to the German Stock Corporation Law and a number of other laws.
The new legislation has led to the following obligations in particular for United Internet AG:
- setting of targets by the Supervisory Board for the share of women on the Supervisory Board of United Internet AG
- setting of targets by the Supervisory Board for the share of women on the Management Board of United Internet AG
- setting of targets by the Management Board for the share of women on the first and second management levels below the Management Board of United Internet AG
The first targets had to be set by September 30, 2015 for a period ending no later than June 30, 2017, during which time the targets should be met. The following targets are to be set for a period of no more than five years.
After careful examination, the Supervisory Board and Management Board of United Internet AG adopted the following based on a resolution of March 16, 2021:
- The Supervisory Board set the deadline for the attainment of the current targets for the share of women on the Supervisory Board and Management Board as the expiry of the Annual Shareholders' Meeting that decides on the discharge of the Supervisory Board for the fiscal year 2024 (May 2025).
- After a target of “0” had previously been set for the Supervisory Board, a target of 30% has now been set for the share of women. The Supervisory Board now comprises two women and four men in accordance with a resolution of the Annual Shareholders' Meeting 2020.
- The two-member Management Board currently comprises only men. After previously setting a target of “0” for the Management Board, the target for the share of women has now been set at 30% in the event of an increase in the size of the Management Board.
- With regard to the share of women on the Supervisory Board and Management Board, the Supervisory Board reserves the right to resolve again on the target should there be any indication of a new appointment.
No target was set for the first and second management levels as United Internet AG does not have any management levels below the Management Board due to its holding structure.
The Supervisory Board and Management Board of United Internet AG believe that the above mentioned target for the Supervisory Board has been met at present. The above mentioned target for the Management Board has not been met at present (in view of the current size of the Management Board), but will be taken into account accordingly in the event of an expansion of the Management Board.
Diversity concept (sections 289f (2) number 6, 315d HGB)
The Company aims to ensure that the Management Board and Supervisory Board are composed of many different types of people and that the bodies as a whole have a sufficiently wide variety of opinions and knowledge.
In particular, the following criteria should be taken into account:
- The members of the Management Board and Supervisory Board should complement each other within their respective committees with regard to their experience, education, and professional background in order to develop a good understanding of the current status and the longer term opportunities and risks associated with the Company's business activities.
- At the Annual Shareholders' Meeting that decided on the discharge of the Supervisory Board for the fiscal year 2019, the Supervisory Board was re-elected and expanded to six members. The Company’s aim is thus to achieve a more diverse composition of the Supervisory Board. Since this time, the Supervisory Board has comprised six members, of which two are women. United Internet has thus achieved its targeted share of women on the Supervisory Board of 30%. The Company’s two-member Management Board currently comprises only men, whereby an increase in the share of women to 30% is targeted in the event of a future expansion of the Management Board. In principle, both sexes should be treated equally on the basis of their qualifications.
- With the exception of an age limit of 70, no differentiation is made according to age for the members of the Management Board and Supervisory Board, and the sole differentiation should be according to the required knowledge and experience.
- In view of the current size of the Management Board and Supervisory Board, consisting of just two and six members respectively, no targets have been set with regard to geographical origin. In order to ensure international experience, the Supervisory Board already stipulates that at least one member of the Supervisory Board should have several years of experience abroad or have gained operational experience with an internationally active company.
The Management Board and Supervisory Board believe that the above diversity requirements for the Management Board and Supervisory Board are currently fulfilled. The Company considers additional or more specific criteria to be inappropriate. In view of the size of the Management Board and Supervisory Board, consisting of two and six members respectively, more or more specific diversity aspects would create considerable difficulties to fill the positions taking into account all diversity criteria.
Annual Shareholders' Meeting
The Annual Shareholders' Meeting is the body which formulates and expresses the interests of the shareholders of United Internet AG. At the ordinary Annual Shareholders' Meeting, the Annual Financial Statements of the parent company and Consolidated Financial Statements are presented to the shareholders. The shareholders decide on the appropriation of the balance sheet profit and vote on resolutions concerning other statutory topics, such as releasing the Management Board members from their responsibility for the past fiscal year and appointing external auditors. Each share entitles the owner to one vote. All shareholders who register in time and are listed in the Share Register on the day of the Annual Shareholders' Meeting are entitled to attend. Shareholders may also exercise their rights at the Annual Shareholders' Meeting by means of a proxy vote. The Company provides a proxy who votes according to the shareholder’s instructions, providing he receives the required order.
Compliance is an integral component of corporate and management culture throughout the United Internet Group. For United Internet AG, compliance means ensuring its activities comply with all relevant laws for its business, as well as with its own principles and regulations.
This includes open and fair communication with our employees, customers, business partners, shareholders, and the public. As an internet service provider with several million customers and a large number of business partners, United Internet’s legally and ethically compliant behavior is vital for retaining the trust of its customers and business associates.
To ensure conduct in line with our corporate culture, the Management Board has created a binding framework for the Company’s ethical principles and values. Moreover, it has defined values and management guidelines, and compiled the most important rules of behavior in a Code of Conduct. This “culture of cooperation” provides guidance for employees in their everyday work and creates a secure framework for making the correct decisions. The framework applies equally to the Management Board, directors, managers, and all employees.
The Management Board has established a Compliance Organization to ensure adherence to the legal and internal regulations.
The Compliance Organization is part of an holistic risk management system which not only includes the “GRC” functions Corporate Governance, Risk Management & Compliance, but also the Corporate Audit and Legal Department. These risk-mitigating functions are headed by the Group General Counsel, who reports directly to the CFO of United Internet AG.
The Compliance Organization is responsible for the creation of suitable structures and processes to support the implementation of compliance throughout the Company and to align measures with the respective risks. The compliance processes include release procedures in the field of corruption prevention and trustworthy reporting paths that give employees the possibility to highlight possible misconduct or legal violations within the Company.
The compliance organization is present and anchored in the business units via functional and local Compliance Managers (FCMs and LCMs). In addition to their normal functions, the FCMs and LCMs support the area of compliance.
The overarching element of the compliance system remains the responsibility of all managers for compliance. This includes acting as a role model, as enshrined in the Company’s management guidelines, and goes beyond this: all managers of the Company must set an example with regard to compliance and ensure that decisions and actions in their area of responsibility are always in line with the relevant legal provisions and the Company’s own values and rules.
Financial disclosures / transparency
It is the declared aim of United Internet to inform institutional investors, private shareholders, financial analysts, employees, and the public simultaneously and with equal treatment about the Company’s situation by means of regular, open, and up-to-date communication.
To this end, all important information, such as press releases, ad-hoc announcements, and other mandatory disclosures (e.g., directors’ dealings and notifications of voting rights), as well as all financial reports, are published in accordance with statutory regulations. In addition, United Internet provides extensive information on its corporate website (www.united-internet.de), where documents and information on Annual Shareholders' Meetings and other economically relevant facts can be found.
United Internet provides shareholders, analysts, and the press with four reports each fiscal year on the Company’s business development and its financial and earnings position. The publication dates of these reports are stated in a binding financial calendar, which the Company posts on its website and regularly updates in accordance with legal obligations.
The Management Board also provides immediate information in the form of ad-hoc announcements about any events not known to the public which might significantly affect the share price.
As part of its investor relations activities, the Company’s management team regularly meets with analysts and institutional investors. We also hold analyst conferences to announce our semi-annual and annual figures, which investors and analysts can also participate in via telephone.
Accounting and auditing
The Group’s accounts are drawn up according to the principles of the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS, as applicable in the EU) with consideration of section 315e HGB. However, the Annual Financial Statements of the parent company – relevant for all dividend and tax matters – are drawn up according to the rules of the German Commercial Code (HGB). The Annual Financial Statements and the Consolidated Financial Statements are audited by independent auditors. The respective auditing company is selected by the Annual Shareholders' Meeting. Ernst & Young GmbH Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft, Eschborn/Frankfurt am Main, was elected to audit the Annual Financial Statements for the fiscal year 2020. The Supervisory Board issues the auditing mandate, determines auditing focal points, approves the auditing fee, and examines the independence of the auditors.
Ernst & Young GmbH Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft has audited the Annual Financial Statements of United Internet AG and the Group since the fiscal year 2002. Mr. Jens Kemmerich has been the chief auditor since fiscal year 2019.
Remuneration of Management Board and Supervisory Board
The principles of remuneration for the Management Board and Supervisory Board are presented in the “Remuneration Report” in chapter 8 of this Management Report. The disclosure of remuneration for members of the Management Board and Supervisory Board, according to person and its fixed and variable components, is to be found in the Remuneration Report and note 42 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.
Stock option plans
The principles of the stock-based compensation plan of United Internet AG are described in the “Remuneration Report” in chapter 8 of this Management Report. Further details are provided in note 36 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.
Declaration of conformity with regard to the recommendations of the German Corporate Governance Code in accordance with section 161 German Stock Corporation Act (AktG)
The corporate governance of United Internet is based on the German Corporate Governance Code (the “Code”), which the Government Commission set up by the Federal Justice Minister in September 2001 published for the first time on February 26, 2002.
The Code aims to make the dual German corporate governance system transparent and understandable. It contains principles, recommendations and suggestions governing the management and monitoring of German listed companies that are accepted nationally and internationally as standards of good and responsible governance. It aims to promote confidence in the management and supervision of German listed companies by investors, customers, employees and the general public. The Government Commission reviews the Code annually to check whether it still complies with current corporate governance best practice and, where necessary, adjusts it accordingly.
The principles reflect material legal requirements for responsible governance, and are used here to inform investors and other stakeholders.
Recommendations of the Code are indicated in the text by using the word “shall”. Companies may depart from recommendations, but in this case they are obliged to disclose and explain any departures each year (“comply or explain”). This enables companies to take into account sector- or company-specific special characteristics. Well-justified departures from recommendations of the Code may be in the best interests of good corporate governance.
Finally, the Code contains suggestions from which companies may depart without disclosure; suggestions are indicated in the text by using the word “should”.
On March 16, 2021, the Management Board and Supervisory Board of United Internet AG submitted their current annual declaration of conformity (presented below) in accordance with section 161 AktG and immediately published it on the Company’s website (www.united-internet.de), as well as in the Federal Gazette (“Bundesanzeiger”).
In accordance with section 161 German Stock Corporation Act (AktG), the Management Board and Supervisory Board of United Internet AG declare that:
Since its last Declaration of Conformity issued on December 16, 2020, United Internet AG has complied with the recommendations of the German Corporate Governance Code (the “Code”) in the version dated December 16, 2019 with the stated exceptions and will continue to comply with the recommendations of the Code in the version dated December 16, 2019, which came into force on publication in the Federal Gazette on March 20, 2020, with the following exceptions:
Formation of committees (Recommendation D.2 of the Code)
In view of its current size with six members, the Supervisory Board has not formed any committees and fulfills all its duties as a whole. At its meeting in December 2020, the Supervisory Board had resolved to set up an Audit and Risk Committee and instructed the Chairman of the Supervisory Board together with the Management Board to prepare the necessary steps for establishing the Committee by the next meeting of the Supervisory Board. At its meeting in March 2021, the Supervisory Board then resolved on the specific structure and working methods of the Audit and Risk Committee and determined that the Audit and Risk Committee should commence its activities after the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting in May 2021. As of this date, therefore, the Company will also comply with recommendation D.2/D.3 of the Code.
Management Board remuneration - Remuneration system (Recommendations G.1 to G.5 inclusive of the Code)
The recommendations G.1 to G.5 inclusive of the Code refer to a system of remuneration for members of the Management Board as defined by section 87a AktG (“Remuneration system”), which, following the amendment of the German Stock Corporation Act (AktG) by the second Shareholders’ Rights Directive (ARUG II), must now be submitted to the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting for approval following a resolution of the Supervisory Board. The remuneration system will be presented for approval to the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting of United Internet AG for the first time at the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting 2021.
The Supervisory Board is currently working on a remuneration system which will be presented to the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting 2021 for approval. The remuneration system will only be used as the basis for future Management Board remuneration after it has been presented to the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting. As the recommendations in G.1 to G.5 of the Code presuppose the existence of a remuneration system, the Company declares a deviation in this respect. The remuneration system currently being prepared is to take into account the recommendations in G.1 to G.5 of the Code without restrictions.
Management Board remuneration – Long-term variable remuneration (Recommendation G.10 of the Code)
According to G.10 of the Code, variable remuneration granted to members of the Management Board is to be predominantly invested in company shares or granted correspondingly as share-based remuneration. Moreover, the respective Management Board member should only be able to receive such amounts after a period of four years. As a long-term variable remuneration program for the Management Board, the Company provides share-based remuneration in the form of its Stock Appreciation Rights (SARs) program. This program has a total term in each case of six years. Within these six years, the respective Management Board member can already exercise a part (25%) of the allocated SARs at specified times – no earlier, however, than after two years. Thus, Management Board members can already receive part of their long-term variable remuneration after two years.
The Supervisory Board believes that this long-term variable remuneration system has proved effective and sees no reason to further postpone the granting of remuneration earned under this program. By linking remuneration to the share price of United Internet AG and the possibility to add shares in order to meet claims arising from the program, the Supervisory Board believes that Management Board members already participate adequately in the risks and opportunities of United Internet AG as a company. Since the program has a term of six years and the SARs are allocated pro rata over this period, and no earlier than after two years, the Supervisory Board believes that the program is ideally suited to maintaining loyalty and steering incentives in the interests of United Internet AG, and thus does not require any alteration.
Management Board remuneration – Retaining/reclaiming variable remuneration (Recommendation G.11 of the Code)
According to G.11 of the Code, the Supervisory Board shall have the possibility to withhold or reclaim variable remuneration in justified cases. The current service agreements of Management Board members do not include such provisions. However, the Company intends to include a so-called “claw-back clause” in its remuneration system, and in future also in the service agreements of Management Board members, which will enable it to reclaim variable compensation.
Management Board remuneration – Benefits on contract termination (Recommendation G.13 of the Code)
According to G.13 of the Code, any payments made to Management Board members due to early termination of their Management Board activity shall not exceed twice the annual remuneration and shall not constitute remuneration for more than the remaining term of the employment contract. If post-contractual non-compete clauses apply, such severance payments shall be taken into account in the calculation of any compensation payments. The current service agreements of Management Board members do not include an option to take this into account. However, the Company intends to provide for this in the remuneration system and in future also in the service agreements of Management Board members (and any related termination agreements).
Consideration of the Deputy Chair when setting compensation for Supervisory Board members (Recommendation G.17 of the Code)
When setting compensation for Supervisory Board members, the position of the Deputy Chair of the Supervisory Board has so far not been awarded higher compensation compared to the other regular members. In the future, the compensation system of the Supervisory Board shall be amended to the effect that the Deputy Chair of the Supervisory Board receives higher compensation than a regular member of the Supervisory Board in order to take into account that the Deputy Chair of the Supervisory Board – should the Chair of the Supervisory Board be prevented from attending – has to take on additional duties.
In addition, the remuneration system for the Supervisory Board shall also be expanded with the addition of a function-related element to remunerate the members of the recently implemented Audit and Risk Committee, and their associated additional duties, beyond the existing compensation for their regular activities as members of the Supervisory Board.
The new remuneration system for the Supervisory Board is to be submitted to the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting of United Internet AG for approval at the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting 2021.