The German Corporate Governance Code sets out major statutory requirements governing the management and supervision of German listed companies. It contains both nationally and internationally recognised standards of good and responsible enterprise management. The purpose of the Code is to foster the trust of investors, clients, employees and the general public in German enterprise management. Under § 161 Stock Corporation Act (AktG) it is incumbent on the Management Board and Supervisory Board of German listed companies to provide an annual declaration of conformity with the recommendations of the “German Corporate Governance Code Government Commission” published by the Federal Ministry of Justice or to explain which recommendations of the Code were / are not applied.
The Executive Board and Supervisory Board declare pursuant to § 161 Stock Corporation Act (AktG) that in its implementation of the German Corporate Governance Code Hannover Rück SE diverges in four respects from the recommendations contained in the version of the Code dated 7 February 2017:
The variable compensation of the members of the Executive Board is granted in part in the form of Hannover Re share awards. The maximum number of share awards granted at the time of allocation depends upon the total amount of variable compensation, which is subject to an upper limit (cap), i. e. the allocation of share awards is limited by the cap. The share awards have a vesting period of four years. During this period the members of the Executive Board therefore participate in positive and negative developments at the company, as reflected in the share price. The equivalent value of the share awards is paid out to the members of the Executive Board after the end of the vesting period. The amount paid out is determined according to the share price of the Hannover Re share applicable at the payment date plus an amount equivalent to the total dividends per share distributed during the vesting period. The share awards consequently follow the economic fortunes of the Hannover Re share.
The amount of variable compensation deriving from the granting of share awards is thus capped at the time when the share awards are allocated, but it is not capped again at the time of payment. Bearing in mind the harmonisation of the interests of shareholders and of the members of the Executive Board of Hannover Rück SE that is sought through the share awards, the company does not consider further limitation of the amount of variable remuneration resulting from the granting of share awards at the time of payment to be expedient. From the company’s perspective, the use of Hannover Re share awards as a method of payment constitutes – in economic terms – a compulsory investment in Hannover Re shares with a four-year holding period.
For formal purposes and as a highly precautionary measure, Hannover Rück SE is therefore declaring a divergence from Code Section 4.2.3 Para. 2.
Premature termination of a service contract without serious cause may only take the form of cancellation by mutual consent. Even if the Supervisory Board insists upon setting a severance cap when concluding or renewing an Executive Board contract, this does not preclude the possibility of negotiations also extending to the severance cap in the event of a member leaving the Executive Board. In addition, the scope for negotiation over a member leaving the Executive Board would be restricted if a severance cap were agreed, which could be particularly disadvantageous in cases where there is ambiguity surrounding the existence of serious cause for termination. In the opinion of Hannover Rück SE, it is therefore in the interest of the company to diverge from the recommendation contained in Code Section 4.2.3 Para. 4.
The current Chair of the Supervisory Board and Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee of Hannover RückSE is at the same time also the Chair of the Board of Management of the controlling shareholder and hence cannot, in the company’s legal assessment, be considered independent.
In the period from 1994 to 2002 he served as the company’s Chief Financial Officer. During this time he acquired superb knowledge of the company and he is equipped with extensive professional expertise in the topics that fall within the scope of responsibility of the Finance and Audit Committee. With this in mind, the serving Chair of the Supervisory Board is optimally suited to chairing the Audit Committee.
This assessment is also not cast into question by the fact that the Committee Chair cannot be considered independent within the meaning of the German Corporate Governance Code. Furthermore, since his service as Chief Financial Officer of Hannover Rück SE dates back to a period that is already some fifteen years ago, it is also the case that the reviews and checks performed by the Finance and Audit Committee no longer relate to any timeframe within which he himself was still a member of the Executive Board or decisions initiated by him as a member of the Executive Board were still being realised.
In the opinion of Hannover Rück SE, it is therefore in the interest of the company to diverge from the recommendation contained in Code Section 5.3.2 Para. 3 Sentence 2.
The currently serving Chair of the Supervisory Board of Hannover Rück SE is at the same time the Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee. As already explained above in the justification for divergence from Code Section 5.3.2 Para. 3 Sentence 2, there are good grounds to support the current Chair of the Supervisory Board also serving as Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee. In the opinion of Hannover Rück SE, it is therefore in the interest of the company to diverge from the recommendation contained in Code Section 5.3.2 Para. 3 Sentence 3.
We are in compliance with all other recommendations of the Code.
Hannover, 7 November 2017
For the Executive Board, for the Supervisory Board