In general, Kesko is in compliance with the Finnish regulations relating to the organization and procedures of the Annual General Meeting.
Under ITEM 9, the Board of Directors proposes to distribute a dividend of EUR 2.34 per share, +6.4% as compared with 2017 despite a 38.0% decline in consolidated net income. The proposed dividend distribution is not fully covered by consolidated net earnings or free cash flow. However, it should be noted that cash flow from operations significantly increased in 2018, by 49.7%, and the reduction in consolidated net income was mainly due to extraordinary transactions, such as the divestments of non-profitable business units. In comparable terms, operating profit increased by 12.2%, and the comparable earnings per share increased by 7.9%. Also taking into account Kesko's healthy financial position (net debt-to-EBITDA ratio was 0.4x in 2018), ECGS recommends to vote FOR.
Under ITEM 13, the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors seeks approval of the remuneration of the auditor. Since non-audit fees paid are greater than 50% of the audit fee on a three-year aggregate basis, ECGS recommends to vote OPPOSE.
Under ITEM 14, the Audit Committee proposes to reappoint PricewaterhouseCoopers as the Company's auditor for FY 2019. As already mentioned above, the level of non-audit fees is not in accordance with ECGS' guidelines, and the current auditor has been in office for 43 years, which exceeds its guidelines. In line with EU regulation, ECGS recommends a term of maximum 20 years (10 + 10 years, if a tender is undertaken). Therefore, ECGS recommends to vote OPPOSE.
Kesko is a provider of trading sector services. Co.'s reportable segments are: food trade, which comprises the wholesale and B2B trade of groceries in Finland and the grocery trade in Russia; home and speciality goods trade, which comprises Co.'s K-citymarket Oy subsidiary's home and speciality goods; building and home improvement trade, which includes Co.'s Rautakesko Ltd's subsidiary's wholesale and B2B sales in the building and home improvement and agricultural trade in Finland, and the trade in Sweden, Norway, the Baltic countries, Russia and Belarus; and car and machinery trade, which comprises the business operations of Co.'s subsidiaries, VV-Auto Group Oy and Konekesko Ltd.
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On 9 May 2019, the Company issued convertible bonds for a total principal amount of EUR 150 million. The sole agenda item relates to the proposed approval and ratification, in accordance with Article 556 of the Belgian Companies Code, of conditions of the convertible bonds in case of a change of control. These are standard provisions and they are in line with the market practice. Hence, we see no reason for shareholder concern and recommend to approve.
General: Hella is a leading automotive supplier with over 125 locations in some 35 countries. In financial year 2018/2019, the Company generated sales of EUR 7.0bn with around 39,000 employees. Hella specialises in innovative lighting systems and vehicle electronics in its segments Automotive and Aftermarket. Furthermore, in its Special Applications segment, Hella develops, manufactures and sells lighting and electronic products for specialist vehicles. As of 31 May 2019, a total of 60.00% of the Company's shares were covered by a pool agreement of family shareholders. A total of 62 members o...
In general, NN Group is in compliance with the Dutch regulations relating to the organisation and procedures of the Extraordinary General Meeting. On August 12, 2019, the Company announced that Mr. Lard Friese stepped down as CEO of the Company to become the new CEO of Dutch competitor Aegon. ECGS notes that the sole agenda item of this EGM (ITEM 2) concerns the intended appointment of Mr. David Knibbe as CEO and member of the executive board of NN Group. According to Dutch law and the Company's Articles of Association, shareholders are NOT entitled to vote on such agenda item; it is a discus...
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