According to recommendation C. I of the German Corporate Governance Code in the version dated December 16, 2019, the Supervisory Board shall specify concrete objectives regarding its composition as well as prepare a profile of skills and expertise for the entire board. In its composition, the Supervisory Board shall take into account the number of independent members, consider the principle of diversity, specify an age limit, and disclose the term of Supervisory Board membership.
General notes on the composition of the Supervisory Board
The Supervisory Board of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, currently comprises 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 Co-determination 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. Two of the eight shareholder representatives are specified by a delegation right of E. Merck Beteiligungen KG, Darmstadt, Germany, a related party of E. Merck KG, Darmstadt, Germany. The Supervisory Board likewise has no statutory proposal right with respect to exercising this delegation right. The other six shareholder representatives are elected by the General Meeting. In accordance with section 124 (3) sentence 1 AktG, the Supervisory Board shall propose Supervisory Board members to the General Meeting 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 2024 Annual General Meeting. The General Meeting is not required to follow the election proposals. The appointment objectives and competency requirements 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.
For the Supervisory Board of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, 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 to the Supervisory Board, the Supervisory Board shall consider in each case to what extent different, complementary specialist skills; professional and life experience; and an appropriate representation of both genders 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.
Objectives of the Supervisory Board with respect to its composition
According to recommendation C. I of the German Corporate Governance Code in the version dated December 16, 2019, the Supervisory Board specified the following objectives regarding its composition, and reports below on their status of implementation.
The Supervisory Board shall have at least three members with business experience in the main sales markets of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany and the Group. Currently, the main sales markets of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and the Group are Europe, America, and Asia-Pacific. The present composition of the Supervisory Board satisfies this objective. More than three Supervisory Board members have entrepreneurial experience in a wide range of European countries. More than three Supervisory Board members have experience in management positions in companies that operate globally.
Women on the Supervisory Board
Six women are currently members of the Supervisory Board of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. Accordingly, women make up 37.5% of the Supervisory Board. When nominating candidates for election to the Supervisory Board or making proposals for delegations, the Supervisory Board shall examine whether the percentage of women can be increased by suitable candidates. The Supervisory Board considers the 37.5% share of female members to be satisfactory at the present time. This is due to the percentage of women in leadership positions at our company and in consideration of the composition of the supervisory boards of other companies of comparable size.
The Supervisory Board shall have an appropriate number of independent shareholder representatives as members. In any case, at least five of the shareholder representatives on the Supervisory Board shall be independent. According to the Articles of Association of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, six members representing the shareholders are to be elected by the General Meeting, and two members are to be delegated. Taking this and the special ownership structure of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, into account, the shareholder representatives consider five shareholder representatives to be an appropriate number of independent members. In the opinion of the shareholder representatives, the objectives concerning independent members are met at the present time. The shareholder representatives consider the following members to be independent: Wolfgang Büchele, Michael Kleinemeier, Renate Koehler, Peter Emanuel Merck, Helene von Roeder, Helga Rübsamen-Schaeff, Daniel Thelen, and Simon Thelen. In particular, the shareholder representatives do not believe that membership of the Board of Partners of E. Merck KG, Darmstadt, Germany, 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, Darmstadt, Germany, has a strong interest in the businesses of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, operating efficiently and in compliance with procedures, counteracting from the outset conflicts of interest between E. Merck KG, Darmstadt, Germany, and Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and thus also corresponding conflicts of interest between the members of the respective corporate boards.
No material conflicts of interest
Moreover, no one shall be proposed for election to the Supervisory Board who simultaneously serves on a board of or advises a major competitor of the company, or who, owing to another function, such as advisor to major contract partners of the company, could potentially become involved in a conflict of interest. No Supervisory Board member serves on a board of or advises a major competitor. No Supervisory Board member performs a function that could lead to a lasting conflict of interest.
As a rule, the members of the Supervisory Board shall not exceed the age of 75. This objective is met at the present time.
Regular limit on the length of Supervisory Board membership
The objective of the Supervisory Board regarding its composition is that, as a rule, all members belong to the board for an uninterrupted period of no more than 15 years (corresponding to three regular terms of office). This objective is also met at the present time. The length of membership of the Supervisory Board members is set out in the Statement on Corporate Governance in the “Procedures of the Executive Board, Supervisory Board, Board of Partners, and its Committees” section.
Profile of skills and expertise
Additionally, in accordance with recommendation C. I of the German Corporate Governance Code in the version dated December 16, 2019, the Supervisory Board has prepared a profile of skills and expertise and reports on the status of implementation below.
In-depth knowledge of the fields relevant to the company
The Supervisory Board shall have at least four members with in-depth knowledge of and experience in fields that are important to the company, including at least one expert for the Life Science and Healthcare/Electronics business sectors respectively. This requirement is met at the present time. At present, the Supervisory Board has more than four members who have in-depth knowledge of and experience in the Life Science and Healthcare/Electronics business sectors. More than four Supervisory Board members also have executive experience in companies that also or specifically operate in the Life Science and Healthcare/Electronics business 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. They include Supervisory Board members who were or still are members of the management or executive board at relevant companies, as well as Supervisory Board members who have gained experience in supervisory bodies of German or foreign companies of this size.
Knowledge of business administration
The Supervisory Board must have at least four members who have in-depth knowledge of business administration and at least one member who has professional expertise in accounting or auditing. This requirement is met at the present time.
Experience in other supervisory or control bodies
Lastly, the Supervisory Board shall have at least four members who have experience as members of other supervisory or control bodies (whereby possible membership of the Board of Partners of E. Merck KG, Darmstadt, Germany, is not taken into account). This requirement is also met at the present time.