As per Article 19 of the Articles of Association, members of the Board of Directors must not hold more than 15 additional mandates.
The President and the members of the Board of Directors as well as the members of the Remuneration Committee are elected individually by the Annual General Meeting for a term of office lasting until the next ordinary Annual General Meeting; re-election is possible.
The Board of Directors is the highest executive body of the EMS Group. It is responsible for supervising and monitoring the company’s management and that of its affiliated companies which together form the EMS Group. With the exception of the President and the Members of the Remuneration Committee, who are elected by the Annual General Meeting, the Board of Directors constitutes itself. The Board of Directors has delegated most of the operational management of the EMS Group to the CEO. Special tasks can be delegated to individual members of the Board of Directors or to separate special committees.
There are two committees: the Audit Committee and the Remuneration Committee. Their tasks and responsibilities are set out in guidelines. Both committees have assessment, advisory and monitoring functions but no decision-making powers.
As of December 31, 2016, the Audit Committee consisted of two non-executive, independent members of the Board of Directors (Dr Joachim Streu, Chairman, Dr Ulf Berg, member). It assesses the effectiveness of external reporting, internal finance and accounting, internal control systems and compliance with accounting principles. The Audit Committee makes recommendations to the entire Board of Directors regarding presentation of individual and consolidated financial statements to the Annual General Meeting. It also assesses the performance and remuneration of the external auditors.
As per December 31, 2016, the Remuneration Committee consisted of three non-executive members of the Board of Directors (Bernhard Merki, Chairman, Dr Joachim Streu, member, Dr Ulf Berg, member). The Remuneration Committee is concerned with the remuneration policy of the EMS Group (Board of Directors, Executive Management, senior executives). It supports the Board of Directors, in particular in the writing of the Remuneration Report.
The Board of Directors and its committees meet as frequently as business demands. The Board of Directors held seven meetings in 2016, each lasting between one and five hours. The Audit Committee held seven meetings, each lasting between one and three hours, while the Remuneration Committee held five meetings, each lasting between one and two hours.
The Head of Finance (CFO) also attends the meetings of the Board of Directors and the Audit Committee. Other members of Executive Management and Heads of Business Units are invited to attend meetings of the Board of Directors when it discusses matters relevant to their areas of responsibility. To constitute a quorum, a majority of the members of the Board of Directors must be present. The Board of Directors makes decisions and carries out elections with a majority of the members present at the meeting. The Chairman does not have a casting vote. Resolutions can also be passed by telephone, electronic media or circular, provided that no member requests discussion in person. Individual members are obliged to abstain from voting on personal matters or on matters involving persons with whom they are closely associated.
Members of Executive Management are invited to attend committee meetings where matters relevant to their areas of responsibility are to be discussed. The provisions relating to meetings and resolutions of the Board of Directors and to the requirement for its members to abstain, also apply to the committees. At the next plenary meeting of the Board of Directors after their committees have met, the committee Chairman reports on the proceedings and submits proposals to the Board for its decision.
The Board of Directors makes decisions regarding all matters not reserved for the Annual General Meeting or another body by law, the Articles of Association or the Organisational Rules. Subject to article 716a of the Swiss Code of Obligations (non-transferable and inalienable duties of the Board of Directors), the Board of Directors has delegated most of the operational management of the EMS Group to Executive Management. These duties and responsibilities particularly include proposing the strategy for the EMS Group to the Board of Directors, achieving the operative and financial results of the EMS Group, reviewing the budgets and medium-term plans of Business Units, deciding on scheduled capital investments up to CHF 5 million and on unscheduled capital investments up to CHF 0.5 million, reaching decisions on the procurement of external capital (e. g. bonds, bank loans) up to CHF 30 million, issuing guarantees in accordance with the guarantee concept proposed to the Board of Directors, receiving periodic reports on business performance and all other significant events, deciding on the initiation and conduct of legal proceedings and submitting proposals to the Board of Directors for legal proceedings of fundamental significance, approving the organization up to the level of employees directly subordinate to Heads of Business Units, submitting proposals to the Board of Directors on the acquisition and disposal of equity holdings, assigning powers to the members of the board of trustees who protect the interests of the employer in EMS Group pension schemes, proposing authorised signatories to the Board of Directors, permitting heads of Business Units and their direct subordinates to accept seats on Boards of Directors, political offices or honorary offices, enacting the rules of the EMS Group and maintaining personal contact with executive managers of other companies and with important customers.
The Board of Directors receives consolidated quarterly financial statements prepared in accordance with IFRS. Along with the income statement, these mainly provide information on the balance sheet, the cash flow account and changes in equity. Additionally, at the end of each month, the Board of Directors receives a written report from the CEO regarding business performance during that month and the expected monthly result. On the 4th working day of the following month, it receives the monthly income statement with the most important key figures, which are compared with the budgeted figures and those of the previous year. It is also provided, in the same detail, with monthly updated forecast calculations for the end of the year. This serves to monitor the achievability of the budget. Furthermore, at each meeting of the Board of Directors, the CEO and CFO report on the course of business and on all matters relevant to the Group, while the two committee Chairmen report on the matters they have dealt with, detailing their significant findings and assessment and submitting proposals accordingly. Every year, the Board of Directors discusses and approves the budget for the following year, as well as rolling medium-term planning for the next three years. The CEO informs the members of the Board of Directors of any extraordinary events without delay by circular or other appropriate means. At Board meetings, any member of the Board may request information from other members or from Executive Management on any of the company’s affairs. Between meetings of the Board of Directors, any member may request information from the CEO on the course of business, and – with the approval of the Chairman – on specific business events, and/or may inspect business documents. At their own discretion, members of the Board of Directors visit Group companies and participate in the two-monthly Management Meetings held by Executive Management with the Heads of the Business Units in order to form an independent view of the Group’s operating activities and the implementation of its strategy.
During the year under review, ten internal audits were conducted by Group Financial Controlling at Group companies as part of an overall audit plan approved by the Board of Directors and commissioned by Group Financial Controlling. These focused mainly on bookkeeping and compliance. Group Financial Controlling discusses all audit findings in detail with the companies and Business Units concerned, and the most important measures are agreed on. In the event of disagreement between the auditors and the company audited, the different positions are stated transparently. An audit report is prepared containing the overall audit findings. Members of the Audit Committee, the CEO and the CFO each receive a copy of every internal audit report. Following each audit report, the CEO and CFO present the Audit Committee with the measures to be implemented by Group management. All significant measures are continuously monitored by the Audit Committee. In the event of discrepancies, the CEO and CFO must comment on them and present proposals for corrective measures. Although Group Financial Controlling is subordinate to the CFO, it reports directly to the Chairman of the Audit Committee with regard to these activities. Group Financial Controlling also regularly keeps the Audit Committee informed of such changes in the field of accounting. The legal service of the EMS Group reports regularly to the Board of Directors on any legal changes important to EMS. Twice a year, the Audit Committee is notified of all litigation cases that are underway or impending. Besides the status of the individual cases, the report focuses on risks and opportunities they represent, costs and other possible effects.
Risk management constitutes an integral component of planning and reporting activities at EMS. At Executive Management and Business Unit level, risks are identified annually as part of the medium-term planning procedure and preparation of the budget for the following year. They are then weighted according to the gravity of the risk and probability of its occurrence. The identification and assessment of changes in risk play an important part in this process. Measures are defined to reduce significant risks. In the course of planning discussions, the CEO and CFO report to the Board of Directors on the magnitude of these risks and the implementation status of the measures taken to counter them.