Compensation, stock ownership and loans
OAEC-related provisions in the Bylaws
Detailed information on the compensation of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee under section 663c of the Swiss Code of Obligations is provided from page 153, in the separate Compensation Report section of this annual report.
Sections 21 to 28 of the Bylaws govern compensation approval, the compensation of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee, the composition of performance-based compensation, and the terms of stock awards.
Every year, the Board of Directors submits its proposals for the maximum aggregate amounts of compensation for approval to the Annual Shareholder Meeting:
To any new member joining the Executive Committee during a period for which the Shareholder Meeting has already approved the compensation, Comet Holding AG or its subsidiaries are authorized to pay an additional amount if the already approved maximum aggregate amount is not sufficient to cover the compensation. The aggregate additional amount per compensation period must not exceed 40% of the approved maximum aggregate amount of compensation of the Executive Committee.
The Bylaws of the Company do not contain specific provisions on the granting of loans, other credit and pension benefits to members of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee or their related parties.
The composition of the performance-based compensation is governed by section 24 of the Bylaws as follows:
Decision authority and responsibility for compensation
The design and regular review and evaluation of the compensation system are the responsibility of the Nomination & Compensation Committee (NCC).
Within the limits of the maximum aggregate amounts approved by the Annual Shareholder Meeting, the Board of Directors once annually prepares the compensation proposals, as follows:
On behalf of the Board of Directors, the external audit firm annually reviews the conformity of the compensation decisions with the regulations of the respective compensation plans for the Board and Executive Committee, and the compliance with the maximum aggregate amounts approved by the Annual Shareholder Meeting.
Market comparison criteria
The Comet Group strives for market levels of compensation, and compensation packages are periodically evaluated by specialized consulting firms against benchmarks. This applies to the compensation both of the Board and of the Executive Committee. The Nomination & Compensation Committee periodically compares the mix of the individual components of remuneration and the amount of total compensation with the respective industry environment and, taking its findings into account, submits proposals to the Board of Directors.
Structure of the compensation system
With effect from January 1, 2017, the Board of Directors of Comet Holding AG established a revised compensation system that applies worldwide. This framework governs the profit-sharing compensation for all employees eligible to participate in the short-term incentive plan (STIP) and the long-term incentive plan (LTIP). The details of the system are set out in a Board-approved regulation. In the year under review, the profit-sharing criteria under the STIP were the sales growth and net income of the Comet Group. The Board of Directors itself receives only a fixed retainer.
Compensation system for employees
The compensation system for the employees of the Comet Group (including the Executive Committee) has two main elements: All employees receive fixed compensation, and all employees eligible for profit-sharing under the STIP may earn a performance-based pay component.
Calculation of total profit-sharing pool
The total amount of STIP profit-sharing compensation is determined as a percentage of the consolidated net income of the Comet Group. This percentage rate is dependent upon the Group’s rate of sales growth compared with the prior year. For fiscal year 2018 the percentage rate was determined according to the following model (unchanged from the prior year):
At least 80% of the profit-sharing pool is allocated among the employees (including the members of the Executive Committee of the Comet Group), using a general allocation formula. Up to an aggregate maximum of 20% of the profit-sharing pool may be allocated selectively to individual employees (including the members of the Executive Committee), using an individual allocation formula. This is to enable the Board and the CEO to recognize individual performance distinctively. Performance is evaluated in the sole discretion of the Board and CEO, at the end of the fiscal year. The unused portion of the individual allocation pool is also distributed by the general allocation formula.
Compensation groups and calibration
The employees eligible for profit-sharing are assigned to one of five compensation groups. These five groups are the CEO, the other members of the Executive Committee, and (subdivided into three groups) the other eligible employees. Each compensation group is assigned a different multiplier. Within a given compensation group, the same multiplier is used for each member of the group. This multiplier represents the weighting assigned to the member of the compensation group in the allocation of the total profit-sharing pool. The values of the individual multipliers are set by the Board of Directors of Comet Holding AG. For each employee the percentage share of the total profit-sharing pool can thus be calculated, based on the individual’s position (which determines the assignment to a compensation group) and gross annual base salary.
The Board of Comet Holding AG has the authority to adjust the calibration of the profit-sharing so as to reflect the performance of the Comet Group. When doing so, the Board ensures the adjustment is fair to all participants. The calibration is normally reviewed every three years and adjusted if appropriate.
Precondition for payment of profit-sharing compensation
A precondition for paying any profit-sharing compensation is that, after the accrual of this distribution, the Comet Group is still able to report positive consolidated net income.
Compensation system for the Board of Directors
Every year, the Board of Directors submits its proposal for the maximum aggregate amount of Board compensation to the Annual Shareholder Meeting for approval.
Responsibility and procedure
The amounts of Board members’ compensation are set to reflect the industry environment and are regularly reviewed against benchmarks. The latest such review was performed in fiscal year 2014. The compensation details are specified in a Board-approved compensation plan in the form of a regulation.
For their work on the Board of Directors, the Board members receive a fixed retainer. A flat expense allowance is paid, in cash.
Two-thirds of the fixed retainer is paid in cash and one-third is paid in shares of stock. The stock awarded is subject to a holding period of three years during which it cannot be sold.
Overview of compensation
Additionally, the actual employer contributions to social security plans are paid.
Joining and departure of Board members
Board members’ normal term of office begins on the date following the day of the Annual Shareholder Meeting that elects them and ends on the date of the next Annual Shareholder Meeting. When a new member joins the Board of Directors, the compensation is paid on a pro-rated basis from the day of election. If a member leaves the Board before the end of a term, the retainer is calculated on a pro-rated basis to the date of departure. In the case of pro-rated retainers as well, two-thirds is paid in cash and one-third is paid in stock.
Compensation system for the Executive Committee
The compensation of the Executive Committee is specified in a Board-approved regulation. Every year, the Board of Directors submits its proposals for the maximum aggregate amounts of Executive Committee compensation to the Annual Shareholder Meeting for approval, specifically:
Responsibility and procedure
The Nomination & Compensation Committee prepares a specific proposal for the amounts of the individual fixed compensation of the CEO and each of the other Executive Committee members, for approval by the full Board of Directors. The CEO recommends the amounts of fixed compensation for the other Executive Committee members to the NCC. The NCC also bases its proposals on general experience and on levels of compensation at peer companies. The full Board periodically reviews, sets and approves the compensation system, based on the proposal of the NCC. The latest such review was performed in fiscal year 2016 with support from the consulting firm Hay Group. Hay Group has no other engagements with the Comet Group.
The profit-sharing compensation is based on the regulations approved by the Board of Directors. The members of the Executive Committee do not attend the related Board meetings and are not entitled to vote on their compensation.
All members of the Executive Committee receive fixed compensation that is paid monthly, as well as a flat expense allowance. The fixed compensation is determined by the individual’s amount of responsibility, role, performance, experience and skills, and by local market conditions. These elements of compensation are paid in cash.
Short-term profit-sharing compensation (STIP)
In addition to the fixed compensation, the Comet Group’s employee profit-sharing plan provides a performance-related short-term incentive pay component (STIP), of which one-third is paid in stock. The stock awarded is subject to a holding period of three years during which it cannot be sold. The balance of the STIP amount is paid in cash.
Calculation of short-term profit-sharing compensation (STIP)
An individual Executive Committee member’s share of the total profit-sharing pool (under the STIP) is calculated using the following model:
a) Calculation of individual’s percentage share of total profit-sharing pool
1 Represents the aggregate of the multiplier-weighted gross salaries of all employees and the retainers of the Board of Directors.
b) Calculation of effective profit-sharing compensation
% share of total profit-sharing pool × amount of profit-sharing pool actually being distributed
The calculation of an individual’s effective profit-sharing compensation is based on that portion of the total profit-sharing pool which has been allocated by the general allocation formula. In addition to that general portion, the Board of Directors may award an individual share of profit. Profit-sharing awards to the CEO and the other members of the Executive Committee are approved by the Board, which in turn proposes them to shareholders for ratification at the Annual Shareholder Meeting in a binding vote as part of the total compensation of the Executive Committee.
Joining and departure of Executive Committee members
Members joining the Executive Committee intra-year participate in profit-sharing on a pro-rated basis. In the event of departures from the Executive Committee, the amount due is calculated based on the approved consolidated financial statements and is paid out in stock and cash upon approval of the profit-sharing compensation by the Annual Shareholder Meeting.
Terms of employment
The members of the Executive Committee have employment agreements with a notice period of not more than nine months. There is no entitlement to termination benefits of any kind.
Disbursement of profit-sharing compensation
The members of the Executive Committee receive one-third of their short-term profit-sharing compensation in stock. The balance of the STIP amount is paid in cash. A precondition for paying any profit-sharing compensation is that consolidated net income is still positive after the accrual of this compensation.
Long-term profit-sharing compensation (LTIP)
The aim of the long-term incentive plan (LTIP), which was introduced in fiscal year 2017, is to tie the CEO and the other members of the Executive Committee more closely to the company and to align part of their compensation more closely with the achievement of long-term corporate targets. Stock transferred under the LTIP does not have a holding period.
Structure of the LTIP
The amount of the LTIP compensation is dependent on the value of the stock earned as short-term profit-sharing compensation (STIP) in the previous three years. LTIP stock is granted each year inasmuch as the STIP performance targets for the previous three years were achieved. The LTIP amount is based on performance against the following two targets:
Target achievement is measured relative to a group of comparable listed Swiss manufacturing companies.
Calculation of the LTIP
For both targets, target achievement is assessed by measuring the index-based relative performance, thus comparing the Comet Group’s performance with that of the companies in the peer group. The degree of target achievement is 0% if the Comet Group’s result is in the bottom quartile of the index (i.e., among the 25% of companies with the lowest performance). Target achievement is 100% (the maximum) if the result attained is in the top quartile of the index (i.e., in the top 25% of all companies). When the result lies between these two outcomes, the percentage of target achievement is interpolated on a straight-line basis between 0% and 100%.
Target achievement is ascertained by an independent external party.
The value of the stock granted under the LTIP is based on the average annual achievement of the two performance targets (T1 and T2, in percent) multiplied by the average annual value of the stock (VS) actually transferred to employees in the preceding three years as STIP short-term profit-sharing compensation, multiplied by a calibration factor C:
Growth target T1: The growth target is a specified three-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of sales for the respective last three years. The performance against this measure is compared with that of the peer group (a group of manufacturing firms listed on the Swiss stock exchange). The achievement of the growth target is thus measured by the average CAGR of the Comet Group over the last three years in relation to the results of the peer group.
Profitability target T2: The profitability target is a specified average ratio of ROCE to WACC for the respective last three years (ratio of return on capital employed to weighted average cost of capital). The performance against this measure is compared with that of the peer group (a group of manufacturing firms listed on the Swiss stock exchange). The achievement of the profitability target is thus measured by the average ROCE/WACC ratio of the Comet Group over the last three years in relation to the results of the peer group.
Calibration factor C: The calibration factor is set by the Board of Directors. The calibration is normally reviewed every three years and, when necessary, adjusted so that the LTIP corresponds to the performance of the company and the purpose of the LTI plan. When doing so, the Board ensures the adjustment is fair to all participants.
Calculation of the value VS of the average annual amount of STIP stock transferred: The amount of stock transferred under the LTIP is based on the value of the stock transferred under the short-term profit-sharing plan (STIP) over the last three years. That value of transferred STIP stock is measured as of the time of its transfer.
For determining the amount of LTIP stock to be transferred in year n, the underlying average annual value of STIP stock, VS, is calculated as follows:
Where Vn-2 represents the value of the stock transferred in year n-2, Vn-1 represents the value of the stock transferred in year n-1, and Vn represents the value of the stock transferred in year n.
Determination of target achievement
Target achievement is determined at the end of each year. As the data for the peer group companies only becomes available with a time lag, the current year-end data for the Comet Group is compared with that data for the peer group which is available at December 31.
Intra-year joining or departure
The amount of stock to be transferred under the LTIP is based on the amount of stock already actually transferred under the STIP short-term profit-sharing plan and is thus inherently pro-rated in the case of an intra-year hire or promotion. Employees who have given or received notice of termination of employment are not entitled to the LTIP compensation for the year of their departure.
Disbursement of the LTIP
The long-term profit-sharing compensation is disbursed on the basis of the approved consolidated financial statements and the approval of the profit-sharing compensation by the Annual Shareholder Meeting of Comet Holding AG in the subsequent year.
Changes of control
In the event of a public tender offer for the stock of Comet Holding AG, the LTIP compensation for the fiscal years that are not yet compensated under the LTIP at the time the public tender offer is validly made is paid entirely in cash instead of stock.
Upper limit for profit-sharing compensation
There are individual upper limits on the total profit-sharing compensation of the CEO and the other members of the Executive Committee of the Comet Group. The upper limit thus caps the individual’s combined total of short-term (STIP) and long-term (LTIP) profit-sharing compensation. For the CEO this maximum (the upper limit for the combined total of STIP compensation and LTIP stock) is 200% of the fixed compensation. For each of the other members of the Executive Committee, this upper limit for the combined total of STIP compensation and LTIP stock is 150% of the fixed compensation.
Calculation of grant price for share awards to the Board of Directors and Executive Committee
The grant price, at which the stock is awarded and transferred to recipients, is the average closing market price of the stock in the period between (and excluding) the date of the annual results press conference and the date of the Annual Shareholder Meeting. The stock transferred to the Executive Committee members under the STIP, and the stock transferred to the Board members, is subject to a holding period of three years from the date of the award during which it cannot be sold. All other shareholder rights are already effective during the holding period, including rights to dividends and similar distributions and the right to participate in Shareholder Meetings. The stock transferred to the Executive Committee members under the LTIP does not have a holding period.