Triodos Bank’s Executive Board provides a perspective on the wider world it operates in, its impact and activity in 2016 and its prospects for the future.
Dutch Corporate Governance Code
The Dutch Corporate Governance Code (‘the Code’) only applies to companies whose shares are listed on a regulated market. Even though Triodos Bank’s depository receipts are not listed on any regulated market it chooses to endorse and comply with the principles and best practices of the Code. The full comply-or-explain statement as required under the Code can be accessed at www.triodos.com/governance.
Although Triodos Bank generally complies with the principles and best practices of the Code, it has opted to consciously differ from it in several specific instances.
The first deviation relates to voting rights on shares and appointments. To secure the continuity of Triodos Bank’s mission and objectives, depository receipt holders cannot exercise voting rights on the underlying shares. Instead these rights are exercised by SAAT. For the same reason, depository receipt holders cannot make recommendations for appointments of members of the Board of SAAT, and former Executive Board or Supervisory Board members of the bank can be appointed as members of the Board of SAAT.
The second instance relates to the term of office of Executive Board members. This term is not limited to a period of four years because Triodos Bank feels that this would not serve the long term development of the organisation.
Triodos Bank also differs from the best practice in the Code that states that a person may be appointed to the Supervisory Board for a maximum of three, four-year terms. Its articles of association allow the General Meeting to re-appoint a member of the Supervisory Board, in exceptional circumstances, after his or her maximum number of terms has been completed. This creates extra time and space for the Supervisory Board to fill vacancies with high quality people.
The fourth instance concerns the fact that, for practical reasons, Triodos Bank has adopted a modified regime for conflicts of interest relating to cases in which it intends to enter into a transaction with a legal entity in which an Executive Board member holds a management or supervisory position. If such a conflict of interest concerns a legal entity outside the Triodos Bank Group, and is of material importance to it, the adapted regime provides for checks and balances (e.g. through the involvement of the Supervisory Board’s Audit and Risk Committee) and ensures adequate transparency. If such a conflict of interest regards a legal entity within the Triodos Bank Group no rules will apply. This is in accordance with the latest developments in regulation and case law. To other (personal) conflicts of interest of Executive Board members (as defined in best practice II.3.2 sub i) and ii) of the Code) the provisions of the Code are applicable.
The fifth instance relates to the fact that the Supervisory Board of Triodos Bank does not have separate nomination and remuneration committees. Instead, it operates an integrated Nomination and Compensation Committee. This is done for practical reasons, given the size of Triodos Bank.
Finally Triodos Bank also differs from the Code’s best practice when submitting all proposals to the General Meeting for material amendments to the Articles of Association as separate agenda items. For practical reasons Triodos Bank wants to retain the possibility, at the discretion of the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board, to submit a proposal for multiple amendments to the Articles of Association as one single agenda item when these proposed amendments are strongly interrelated.
On 8 December 2016, the Monitoring Committee Corporate Governance Code published a revised Dutch Corporate Governance Code. The revised code came into force as of 1 January 2017 and will therefore first be applicable to the 2017 financial year. Triodos Bank is reviewing the new best practices to see if its internal organisation needs to be further aligned and, if so, what steps need to be taken to ensure compliance with the revised Code.