According to section 5.4.1 (2) and (3) of the German Corporate Governance Code, the Supervisory Board shall specify concrete objectives regarding its composition which, while considering the specifics of the enterprise, take into account the international activities of the enterprise, potential conflicts of interest, the number of independent Supervisory Board members, an age limit to be specified for Supervisory Board members and a regular limit on the length of Supervisory Board membership to be specified, as well as diversity.
The Supervisory Board of Merck KGaA currently consists of 16 members, eight of whom represent the shareholders and a further eight who represent the employees. The eight employee representative members are elected by employee delegates pursuant to the provisions of the German Codetermination Act (Mitbestimmungsgesetz “MitbestG”). These consist of six company employees, including a senior executive, as well as two union representatives. The Supervisory Board has no statutory proposal right with respect to electing the delegates or employee representatives. Owing to a delegation right of E. Merck Beteiligungen KG, two of the eight shareholder representatives are specified. The Supervisory Board likewise has no statutory proposal right with respect to exercising this delegation right. The remaining six shareholder representatives are elected by the General Meeting. In accordance with section 124 (3) sentence 1 AktG, the Supervisory Board shall propose to the General Meeting Supervisory Board members for election. These proposals require a majority of the votes of the shareholder representative members of the Supervisory Board. The next scheduled election to the Supervisory Board shall take place at the 2019 General Meeting. The General Meeting is not required to follow the election proposals. The appointment objectives that the Supervisory Board sets forth below therefore do not represent requirements to be met by those eligible to elect or to delegate members. Instead, they are intended to express the objectives pursued by the Supervisory Board in office with regard to its advisory and monitoring functions.
In accordance with section 5.4.1 (2) of the German Corporate Governance Code, the Supervisory Board has specified the following objectives with respect to its composition and reports on the status of their implementation below.
Professional qualifications and personal expertise are the two most important prerequisites for appointments to seats on the Supervisory Board. When proposing Supervisory Board candidates for election or delegation, the Supervisory Board will always give top priority to these prerequisites, which are essential for fulfilling its legal duties.
Overall, the Supervisory Board’s policy is to optimally meet its monitoring and advisory duties by having diversity among its members. Diversity includes, in particular, internationality as well as different experience backgrounds and career paths. The proportion of women on the Supervisory Board is also considered to be an aspect of diversity. When preparing proposals for election or delegation, due consideration shall be given in individual cases to the extent to which different, yet complementary professional profiles, career and life experiences, as well as appropriate representation of both genders can benefit the work of the Supervisory Board. Additionally, the Supervisory Board shall support the Executive Board in its efforts to increase diversity within the company.
The Supervisory Board shall have at least four members with in-depth knowledge and experience of fields that are important to the company, including at least one expert for the Healthcare and Life Science / Performance Materials sectors, respectively.
Merck is currently meeting this objective for the composition of the Supervisory Board. At present, the Supervisory Board has more than four members who have in-depth knowledge and experience of the Healthcare and Life Science / Performance Materials sectors. More than four Supervisory Board members also have executive experience in companies that also or specifically operate in the Healthcare and Life Science / Performance Materials sectors.
The Supervisory Board shall have at least three members who have experience in managing or supervising a medium- or large-sized company.
The Supervisory Board has more than three members who have the corresponding experience. This includes both Supervisory Board members who were or still are management board members or directors in such companies, as well as Supervisory Board members who have gained experience in supervisory bodies of German and / or foreign companies of this size.
The Supervisory Board shall have at least one member who has experience in managing medium- or large-sized familyowned companies.
The Supervisory Board currently has multiple members who have the appropriate management experience in familyowned companies of this size.
The Supervisory Board shall have at least three members with business experience in the main sales markets of Merck KGaA. Currently, the main sales markets of Merck KGaA are Europe, North and Latin America, and Asia-Pacific.
The present composition of the Supervisory Board satisfies this objective. More than three Supervisory Board members have entrepreneurial experience in Europe, covering a wide range of countries. More than three Supervisory Board members have experience in management positions in companies that operate globally.
Six women are currently members of the Supervisory Board of Merck KGaA. This corresponds to 37.5% of the Supervisory Board. When nominating candidates for election to the Supervisory Board or making proposals for delegation, the Supervisory Board shall examine whether the percentage of women can be increased by suitable candidates.
The Supervisory Board currently consists of 37.5% women, which it considers a satisfactory percentage. This is based on both the percentage of women in management positions at Merck, as well as the fact that the supervisory boards of other companies have a comparable percentage of women.
The Supervisory Board shall have an adequate number of independent members. Assuming that the status of being an employee representative per se does not justify doubts with respect to the independence criteria within the meaning of section 5.4.2 of the German Corporate Governance Code, normally all employee representatives should be independent within the meaning of the Code. In any case, at least four of the shareholder representatives on the Supervisory Board should be independent. According to the Articles of Association of Merck KGaA, six members representing the shareholders are to be elected by the General Meeting and two members are to be delegated. Taking this into account, the Supervisory Board considers four shareholder representatives to be an appropriate number of independent members. In the Supervisory Board’s estimation, the objectives concerning independent members are currently met. In particular, the Supervisory Board does not believe that membership of the Board of Partners of E. Merck KG conflicts with independence. The Board of Partners exists complementary to the competencies and the activities of the Supervisory Board. It is not to be expected that this will lead to material and not merely temporary conflicts of interest. It should also be taken into account that due to its substantial capital investment and unlimited personal liability, E. Merck KG has a strong interest in the businesses of Merck KGaA operating efficiently and in compliance with procedures, counteracting from the outset conflicts of interest between E. Merck KG and Merck KGaA and thus also corresponding conflicts of interest between the members of the respective corporate bodies.
Moreover, no one shall be proposed for election to the Supervisory Board who simultaneously serves on a body of or advises a major competitor of the company, or owing to another function, e.g. advisor to major contract partners of the company, could potentially become involved in a conflict of interest. No Supervisory Board member serves on a body of or advises a major competitor. No Supervisory Board member performs a function that could lead to a lasting conflict of interest.
An age limit or a regular limit on the length of membership for Supervisory Board members is not specified since age and length of membership are not criteria for qualifications and expertise. Moreover, we do not wish to forego the many years of experience of Supervisory Board members. Crucial to the successful work of the Supervisory Board is a good balance among Supervisory Board members in terms of age and length of membership.
The achievement of the aforementioned objectives shall be pursued initially until 2017, taking into account applicable law within the scope of elections and re-elections, delegations as well as court appointments of replacement members if these become necessary. All Supervisory Board members will correspondingly influence those eligible to elect or delegate. Taking into consideration the aforementioned criteria and in accordance with its duties under German stock corporation law, the Supervisory Board proposes to the General Meeting the candidates it believes to be best suited in each case and will continue to do so in the future.
Every year, the Supervisory Board will provide information in the Annual Report on the status of implementing its objectives.