Differences between our governance practices and the governance standards required by the exchanges on which our securities trade
The following is a summary of the significant ways that the Company's corporate governance practices differ from the corporate governance standards required for controlled companies by the exchanges on which our securities trade. The Company's corporate governance practices may differ in non-material ways from the standards required by these exchanges that are not detailed here.
Non-management directors' meetings
Under NYSE standards, non-management directors must meet at regularly scheduled executive sessions without management present and, if such group includes directors who are not independent, a meeting should be scheduled once per year including only independent directors. Neither Luxembourg law nor the Company’s articles of association require the holding of such meetings and the Company does not have a set policy for these meetings.
In addition, NYSE-listed companies are required to provide a method for interested parties to communicate directly with the non-management directors as a group. While the Company does not have such a method, it has set up a compliance line for investors and other interested parties to communicate their concerns directly to the members of our audit committee, all of whom are non-management, independent directors.
Under NYSE standards, listed U.S. companies are required to have an audit committee composed of independent directors that satisfies the requirements of Rule 10A-3 promulgated under the Exchange Act. The Company’s articles of association currently require an audit committee composed of at least three members, the majority of which shall qualify as independent directors (as defined in the articles of association) and the Company’s audit committee complies with such requirements. In accordance with NYSE standards, the Company has an audit committee entirely composed of independent directors.
Under NYSE standards, all audit committee members of listed U.S. companies are required to be financially literate or must acquire such financial knowledge within a reasonable period and at least one of its members shall have experience in accounting or financial administration. In addition, if a member of the audit committee is simultaneously a member of the audit committee of more than three public companies, and the listed company does not limit the number of audit committees on which its members may serve, then in each case the board must determine whether the simultaneous service would prevent such member from effectively serving on the listed company’s audit committee and shall publicly disclose its decision. Luxembourg law provisions on audit committee membership require only that at least one member of the committee have competence in accounting or auditing. The Company’s board of directors has concluded that the membership of the audit committee as a whole has sufficient recent and relevant financial experience to properly discharge its functions. In addition, the audit committee, from time to time and as it deems necessary, engages persons that meet all of the attributes of a financial expert as consultants.
Standards for evaluating director independence
Under the NYSE standards, the board is required, on a case by case basis, to express an opinion with regard to the independence or lack of independence of each individual director. Neither Luxembourg law nor the Company’s articles of association requires the board to express such an opinion. In addition, the definition of “independent” under the rules of the exchanges on which the Company's securities are listed differ in some non-material respects from the definition contained in the Company’s articles of association.
Audit committee responsibilities
Pursuant to the Company’s articles of association, the audit committee shall assist the board of directors in fulfilling its oversight responsibilities relating to the integrity of its consolidated financial statements and system of internal controls and the independence and performance of the independent auditors. The audit committee is required to review material transactions (as defined by our articles of association) between the Company or its subsidiaries with related parties and also perform the other duties entrusted to it by the board. The NYSE requires certain matters to be set forth in the audit committee charter of U.S. listed companies.
The Company’s audit committee charter provides for many of the responsibilities that are expected from such bodies under the NYSE standard; however, due to the Company’s equity structure and holding company nature, the charter does not contain all such responsibilities, including provisions related to setting hiring policies for employees or former employees of independent auditors, discussion of risk assessment and risk management policies, and an annual performance evaluation of the audit committee. However, our audit committee from time to time monitors the effectiveness of the Company’s risk management systems.
Shareholder voting on equity compensation plans
Under NYSE standards, shareholders must be given the opportunity to vote on equity-compensation plans and material revisions thereto, except for employment inducement awards, certain grants, plans and amendments in the context of mergers and acquisitions, and certain specific types of plans. The Company does not currently offer equity based compensation to our directors, senior management or employees, and therefore does not have a policy on this matter.
Disclosure of corporate governance guidelines
NYSE-listed companies must adopt and disclose corporate governance guidelines. Neither Luxembourg law nor the Company’s articles of association require the adoption or disclosure of corporate governance guidelines. The Company’s board of directors follows corporate governance guidelines consistent with its equity structure and holding company nature, but the Company has not codified them and therefore does not disclose them on its website.
Code of business conduct and ethics
Under NYSE standards, listed companies must adopt and disclose a code of business conduct and ethics for directors, officers and employees, and promptly disclose any waivers of the code for directors or executive officers. Neither Luxembourg law nor the Company’s articles of association require the adoption or disclosure of such a code of conduct. The Company, however, has adopted a code of conduct that applies to all directors, officers and employees that is posted on its website and which complies with the NYSE’s requirements, except that it does not require the disclosure of waivers of the code for directors and officers. In addition, it has adopted a supplementary code of ethics for senior financial officers, which is also posted in the Company's website.
Chief executive officer certification
A chief executive officer of a U.S. company listed on the NYSE must annually certify that he or she is not aware of any violation by the company of NYSE corporate governance standards. In accordance with NYSE rules applicable to foreign private issuers, the Company’s chief executive officer is not required to provide the NYSE with this annual compliance certification. However, in accordance with NYSE rules applicable to all listed companies, the Company’s chief executive officer must promptly notify the NYSE in writing after any of our executive officers becomes aware of any noncompliance with any applicable provision of the NYSE’s corporate governance standards. In addition, the Company must submit an executed written affirmation annually and an interim written affirmation upon the occurrence of any of the events listed in the foreign private issuer interim written affirmation form by the NYSE.