2. Corporate governance practices
The corporate governance of KION GROUP AG is essentially, but not exclusively, determined by the provisions of the German Stock Corporation Act (AktG) and the German Codetermination Act (MitbestG) and also follows the recommendations of the German Corporate Governance Code. KION GROUP AG complied with all but one of the Code’s recommendations in the reporting period. These fundamental principles are combined with a commitment to sustainable business, taking account of society’s expectations in the markets in which the Company operates.
In 2020, the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board (or its committees) regularly discussed corporate governance issues in accordance with a rolling schedule of topics. This ensured that the key elements of corporate governance within the KION Group were always on the agenda at meetings of the Company’s main decision-making bodies. The Supervisory Board in particular complied with the supervisory duties incumbent upon it under the German Stock Corporation Act. The Supervisory Board’s Audit Committee, which was appointed to support this task, received regular reports on the accounting standards and associated processes, on changes to the regulatory environment and the internal control and risk management systems, and on the audit of financial statements and the effectiveness and quality of this, and then reported back to the Supervisory Board on these matters.
2.1 Internal control system
KION GROUP AG has an internal control system designed to meet the specific needs of the Company. Its processes are intended to ensure the correctness of the internal and external accounting processes, the efficiency of the Company’s business operations, and compliance with key legal provisions and internal policies. These control processes also include the Company’s strategic planning, where the underlying assumptions and plans are reviewed on an ongoing basis and refined as necessary.
2.2 Accounting-related internal control system
For its accounting process, the KION Group has defined suitable structures and processes as part of its internal control and risk management system and implemented them throughout the Group. Besides defined control mechanisms, it includes, for example, system-based and manual reconciliation processes, clear separation of functions, strict compliance with the double-checking principle, and written policies and procedures. The overarching aim is for the separate financial statements, consolidated financial statements, and combined management report to be fully compliant with the relevant statutory and regulatory requirements and, in particular, the applicable financial reporting standards. Changes to these requirements and standards are analyzed on an ongoing basis and taken into account as appropriate. Details can be found in the risk report, which is part of the combined management report.
2.3 Risk management system
For the Company to be managed professionally and responsibly, the Executive Board must use the risk management system established in the Company to regularly gather information about current risks and how they are evolving, and then report on this to the Supervisory Board’s Audit Committee. The KION Group’s risk management system is documented in a Group risk policy that defines tasks, processes, and responsibilities and sets out the rules for identifying, assessing, reporting, and managing risk. Specific individual risks are then reported by each Group entity using a reporting tool that is tailored to requirements. Reporting on cross-segment risks and groupwide risks is carried out by Controlling and the relevant departments at Group level. The risks that have been reported are reviewed on a quarterly basis and re-assessed until the reason for reporting a risk no longer exists.
2.4 Compliance management system
The Executive Board and Supervisory Board of KION GROUP AG consider that adhering rigorously to broad-ranging compliance standards is essential to sustained financial success. That is why a detailed compliance program, centering around the KION Group Code of Compliance, has been set up for KION GROUP AG and its Group companies worldwide.
The KION Group Code of Compliance, which is available in all of the main languages relevant to the KION Group companies, provides all employees with clear guidance on how to conduct their business in accordance with sound values and ethics and in compliance with the law. The aim is that all employees should receive regular training on the most important compliance subjects, in particular anti-corruption, liability of senior management / directors’ and officers’ liability, data protection and IT security, communications, competition law, and foreign trade / export controls. Compliance activities are also focused on these areas.
The Executive Board of KION GROUP AG bears collective responsibility for the functioning of compliance management within the Group; the compliance department reports to the Chief Financial Officer of KION GROUP AG. The performance of compliance duties has been delegated to the Chief Compliance Officer. The presidents of the Operating Units are responsible for compliance within the operating business, while the functional managers are responsible for core administrative processes in the departments at the Group’s headquarters. Ultimate responsibility for the compliance management system lies with the CFO of the Group. The KION compliance department, the KION compliance team, and the KION compliance committee provide operational support to the aforementioned functions. The KION compliance department focuses mainly on preventing compliance violations by providing guidance, information, advice, and training. It manages the KION compliance team, in which local and regional compliance officers of the Group are represented.
Actual or suspected incidents of non-compliance can be reported anonymously or otherwise by contacting an external 24-hour compliance hotline, by sending an email or letter, by calling an internal KION Group hotline, or by contacting a compliance officer directly.
As part of its work, the compliance department at KION GROUP AG cooperates closely with the legal, internal audit, and human resources departments. The KION compliance committee, which is staffed by the heads of these departments and chaired by the Chief Compliance Officer, operates as a cross-functional committee that primarily advises on and examines reported incidents of non-compliance and, if appropriate, punishes incidents of misconduct.
2.5 Audit of the financial statements
The Company’s independent auditors, which are appointed by means of a resolution of the Annual General Meeting, audit the separate financial statements prepared by the Executive Board of KION GROUP AG, the consolidated financial statements, and the combined management report. Since the audit of the 2014 separate and consolidated financial statements, Ms. Kirsten Gräbner-Vogel has been the global lead service partner at the appointed independent auditors, Deloitte GmbH Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft (Deloitte). The separate financial statements, consolidated financial statements, combined management report, and non-financial report are discussed by the Audit Committee and then reviewed and approved by the Supervisory Board.
The independent auditors review the condensed consolidated interim financial statements and condensed interim group management report in the half-year financial report. They also review the non-financial report. The Executive Board discusses the two quarterly statements and the half-year financial report with the Audit Committee before they are published.
2.6 Avoiding conflicts of interest
Conflicts of interest between the governing bodies and other decision-makers in the Company or significant shareholders go against the principles of good corporate governance and may be harmful to the Company. KION GROUP AG and its governing bodies therefore adhere strictly to the Code’s recommendations on this subject. The employees of KION GROUP AG and its subsidiaries are made aware of the problem of conflicts of interest as part of compliance training and are bound by rules on how to behave in the event of actual or potential conflicts of interest. Every Executive Board member must disclose potential conflicts of interest to the chairman of the Supervisory Board and the Chief Executive Officer immediately and must also inform the other Executive Board members. All transactions between KION GROUP AG and Executive Board members or related parties must be concluded on an arm’s-length basis.
The Company attaches high priority to preventing possible conflicts of interest from occurring in the first place. This is especially important given that Weichai Power Co., Ltd., Weifang, People’s Republic of China, indirectly holds a stake of 45.2 percent in KION GROUP AG. The Company achieves these aims by avoiding business scenarios or personnel structures that could give the impression of a conflict of interest and by taking transparent steps and issuing clear communications.
The Company’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Gordon Riske, was appointed a non-executive director of Weichai Power Co., Ltd., with effect from June 24, 2013. On June 14, 2018, the term of his appointment was extended to June 13, 2021. The Supervisory Board had previously given its consent to this appointment. Appropriate precautions have been taken to ensure that this role at a parent company of the Company does not create a conflict of interest relating personally to Mr. Riske. Formal processes have been put in place to ensure that Mr. Riske, in his role as a non-executive director of Weichai Power Co., Ltd., is not involved in transactions that could give rise to a conflict with the interests of the KION Group. Nor is Mr. Riske involved in transactions relating to the exercise of voting rights by Weichai Power Co., Ltd. or its subsidiaries at the Annual General Meeting of KION GROUP AG. It has been ensured that Mr. Riske maintains a strict separation between his duties as a non-executive director of Weichai Power Co., Ltd., and his duties as Chief Executive Officer of KION GROUP AG and fulfills all of his legal obligations in the interests of the Company.