Business report  >  Corporate governance

3. Board of Directors

Members of the Board of Directors

On December 31, 2012, the Board of Directors was composed of six members.

Albert M. Baehny (1952)

Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors since 2011,
elected until 2014
Swiss citizen
Resident in Arlesheim (CH)

Albert M. Baehny graduated with a degree in biology from the University of Fribourg (CH). In 1979, he started his career in the research department of Serono-Hypolab. His further career comprised various marketing, sales, strategic planning and global management positions with Dow Chemicals Europe (1981-1993), Ciba-Geigy/Ciba SC (1994-2000), Vantico (2000-2001) and Wacker Chemie (2001-2002). For more than 20 years, Albert M. Baehny gathered relevant knowledge and expertise with global business responsibility. Before joining Geberit, he was Senior Vice President of Wacker Specialities. At Geberit he was Head of Group Division Marketing and Sales Europe from 2003 to 2004. Albert M. Baehny has been Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Geberit Group since 2005. Since 2011 he is Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Robert F. Spoerry (1955)

Vice Chairman and Lead Director of the Board of Directors since 2011, non-executive, independent member of the Board of Directors since 2009, elected until 2013
Swiss citizen
Resident in Schindellegi (CH)
Chairman of the Board of Directors Mettler-Toledo International Inc., Greifensee (CH); President of the Board of Directors Sonova Holding AG, Stäfa (CH); member the Board of Directors Conzzeta AG, Zurich (CH)

Robert F. Spoerry holds a degree in mechanical engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich and an MBA diploma of the University of Chicago. He has been with Mettler-Toledo since 1983 and was its CEO from 1993 to 2007. He oversaw the separation from Ciba-Geigy in the year 1996 and the initial public offering of Mettler-Toledo on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in 1997. In 1998, he became Chairman of the Board of Directors. Robert F. Spoerry has had no significant business relations with the Geberit Group in the past five years.

Hartmut Reuter (1957)

Non-executive, independent member of the Board of Directors since 2008, elected until 2014
German citizen
Resident in Steckborn (CH)
Member of the Shareholders Committee and Supervisory Board of Vaillant GmbH, Remscheid (DE); Chairman of the Advisory Board of GBT-Bücolit GmbH, Marl (DE); Member of the Board of Directors of Elmove AG, Zurich (CH); Member of the Board of Directors of Wilkhahn GmbH + Co KG, Bad Münder (DE)

After graduating in industrial engineering from Darmstadt (DE) University of Technology, Hartmut Reuter joined the Bosch Group in Stuttgart in 1981. During more than 15 years with Bosch, he occupied management positions in various industrial business units, at last he was Director in the division planning and controlling at the Bosch headquarters. From 1997 to 2009, Hartmut Reuter was a member of the Group Executive Board of the Rieter Group in Winterthur; for the last seven of those years he was CEO of the company. He has had no significant business relations with the Geberit Group in the past five years.

Susanne Ruoff (1958)

Non-executive, independent member of the Board of Directors since 2009, elected until 2015
Swiss citizen
Resident in Crans-Montana (CH)
CEO Swiss Post, Bern (CH); member of the Industry Advisory Board Computer Science, ETH Zurich (CH); member of the Board of Directors Bedag Informatik AG (CH)

In addition to her foundation studies in education, Susanne Ruoff obtained an MBA diploma at the University of Fribourg and attended a Client Executive Program at INSEAD in Fontainebleau. She started her career in 1989 at IBM Switzerland. In her 20-year affiliation with IBM, she held several management postitions in the areas of marketing, sales and services. As a member of the Management Board of IBM Switzerland, she was responsible from 2005 to 2009 for the area of Global Technology Services, which included the entire maintenance, outsourcing, and service project area. She was also a member of the Foundation Board as an employer representative of the IBM Pension Fund for six years. From April 1, 2009, she held the position of CEO at British Telecom, Switzerland. On September 1, 2012, she took over the management of Swiss Post, as CEO. Susanne Ruoff has had no significant business relations with the Geberit Group in the past five years.

Jeff Song (1946)

Non-executive member of the Board of Directors since 2012, elected until 2015
US citizen
Resident in Shanghai (CN)

Jeff Song earned a Master's degree in mechanical engineering at Jiaotong University in Shanghai (CN) and at the University of Toronto (CA). In 1988 he received his Ph.D. at the University of Utah (US). He has been responsible for the China business of Ingersoll Rand since 2004 and reports directly to the CEO and Chairman of the Group. He also heads the management body of the Ingersoll Rand Division Heads of the Asia/Pacific region. Ingersoll Rand is a global diversified industrial firm providing products, services and solutions to enhance the quality and comfort of air in homes and buildings, transport and protect food and perishables, secure homes and commercial properties, and increase industrial productivity and efficiency. Ingersoll Rand China generates sales of USD 1 billion, with more than 7,000 employees in 16 legal entities and two joint ventures as well as seven production plants. From 1988 to 2004, Jeff Song was employed at Honeywell. In the Honeywell Group he held different positions as a development engineer, marketing and sales director as well as managing director, first in the USA and later in China. Jeff Song has had no significant business relations with the Geberit Group in the past five years.

Jørgen Tang-Jensen (1956)

Non-executive member of the Board of Directors since 2012, elected until 2015
Danish citizen
Resident in Hellerup (DK)
Member of the Board of Directors Coloplast A/S (DK); member of the Confederation of Danish Industry Business Political Committee.

Jørgen Tang-Jensen holds an MSc in Economics & Business Administration from the Business School in Aarhus (DK). He also completed a number of management further training courses at the IMD in Lausanne (CH) and at Stanford University (US). Jørgen Tang-Jensen has been CEO of the Danish building materials manufacturer VELUX A/S since 2001. The VELUX Group has 10,000 employees working at its own sales companies in about 40 countries and its own manufacturing companies in 11 countries. VELUX is one of the strongest brands in the global building materials sector. The products range from skylights and roof windows to window solutions for flat roofs as well as sun screening and solar panels for roof installation. After completing his studies, Jørgen Tang-Jensen joined the VELUX Group in 1981 and worked in various executive positions in the main VELUX sales and production companies until being appointed as CEO. As a managing director, he was responsible for the respective national companies in Denmark from 1989 to 1991, France from 1991 to 1992, the United States in 1996 and in Germany from 1999 to 2000. Jørgen Tang-Jensen has had no significant business relations with the Geberit Group in the past five years.

Elections and terms of office

The term of office for a member of the Board of Directors is maximum three years and the statutory retirement age limit has been established at 70 years. Members of the Board of Directors are re-elected on a staggered and individual basis.

Susanne Ruoff has decided to step down from the Board of Directors at Geberit AG as of the next General Meeting in April 2013. Due to scheduling conflicts, she will now concentrate fully on her new position as CEO at Swiss Post, which she took on from the start of September 2012. It will be proposed to the 2013 General Meeting that Felix R. Ehrat be elected to the Board of Directors as a new member for a three-year term of office. The current Lead Director and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors, Robert F. Spoerry, is standing for re-election for another three years.

Internal organizational structure

The organization of the Board of Directors is based on the  “Organization Regulations of the Board of Directors of Geberit AG” (see also  “Definition of areas of responsibilities”).

The Board of Directors is self-constituting. After the ordinary General Meeting in which new/re-elections are held, the Board of Directors elects the Chairman and the Vice Chairman from among its members.

The reorganization in the Board of Directors, with Albert M. Baehny as Chairman of the Board of Directors while at the same time remaining in office as CEO, was communicated and explained in detail prior to the 2011 General Meeting. This is a short-term solution intended to aid in determining the best possible succession for the management positions in the company. Albert M. Baehny holds the position of Executive Chairman, Robert F. Spoerry that of Vice Chairman and Lead Director. The Lead Director is invested with additional authorities so that – despite the positions of Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO being combined – exemplary corporate governance is guaranteed. For instance, the Lead Director can independently convene meetings of the independent members of the Board of Directors, and he chairs the Board of Directors in the event of conflicts of interest on the part of the Chairman or when resolutions regarding the compensation of the Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO are to be passed. Robert F. Spoerry was elected an independent member of the Board of Directors of Geberit AG and, because of his extensive experience in corporate management and on company boards, has the best credentials to carry out his responsibilities on Geberit’s Board of Directors.

The Board of Directors meets whenever business so requires, usually six times a year for one day each (2012: seven meetings). Meetings shall be chaired by the Chairman or, in the event of his incapacity, by the Vice Chairman. The Board of Directors shall appoint a Secretary, who need not be a member of the Board of Directors. The Chairman of the Board of Directors may invite members of the Group Executive Board to attend meetings of the Board of Directors.

The Board of Directors shall be quorate if a majority of its members are present. Attendance can also be effected via telephone or electronic media.

The regular meetings of the Board of Directors and committees are scheduled early, so that as a rule all members participate in person. The participation rate in 2012 – with the exception of one meeting, which two members were unable to attend – was 100%.

The Board of Directors has formed two committees composed exclusively of non-executive Board members:

  • Personnel Committee

    The members of the Personnel Committee are Robert F. Spoerry (Chairman), Susanne Ruoff and Jørgen Tang-Jensen. The committee meets at least twice a year for a half day each (2012: three meetings, participation rate 100%). It develops proposals to be submitted to the entire Board of Directors, including, in particular, personnel decisions and the determination of compensation regulations and models (salaries, variable compensations, share and option plans) for the entire Group management, as well as the annual determination of the compensation for the Board of Directors and Group Executive Board. Therefore, the tasks and responsibilities of a compensation and a nomination committee are combined in this committee. Detailed responsibilities are stipulated in the  organization regulations of the Personnel Committee.

  • Audit Committee

    The Audit Committee is composed of Hartmut Reuter (Chairman) and Robert F. Spoerry. It meets at least twice a year for a half day each (2012: two meetings, participation rate 100%). It develops proposals to be submitted to the entire Board of Directors. The committee’s responsibilities include, in particular, the supervision of the internal and external audit as well as the control of the financial reporting. It determines the scope and planning of the internal audit and coordinates them with those of the external audit. For every meeting, the internal and external auditors provide an all-inclusive report about all audits carried out and the measures to be implemented. The Audit Committee monitors the implementation of the conclusions of the audit. The committee also assesses the functionality of the internal control system, including risk management (refer to  “Information and control instruments vis-à-vis the Group Executive Board”). CEO and CFO as well as the internal and external auditors attend the meetings if necessary. Furthermore, the committee is entitled to hold meetings exclusively with representatives of the external as well as the internal auditors. Both the external and internal auditors have access to the minutes of the meetings of the Board of Directors and Group Executive Board. The detailed responsibilities are stipulated in the  organization regulations of the Audit Committee.

Definition of areas of responsibility

Pursuant to article 716a, subparagraph 1 of the Swiss Law of Obligations (Schweizerisches Obligationenrecht), the Board of Directors of Geberit AG has the following non-transferable and irrevocable responsibilities:

  • supervision of the company and giving the instructions required
  • determination of the organization
  • design of the accounting, financial control as well as financial planning to the extent required for managing the Group
  • appointment and dismissal of the persons responsible for management and representation; supervision of the persons responsible for management, in particular with respect to compliance with the laws, articles of incorporation, regulations and instructions
  • establishment of the annual report and preparation of the General Meeting and the implementation of its resolutions
  • notification of the judge in case of a debt overload

The Board of Directors determines the strategic objectives and the general funds for achieving these, and decides on major business transactions. To the extent legally permissible and in accordance with the Organization Regulations, the Board of Directors has assigned the operational management to the Chief Executive Officer.

The Group Executive Board is composed of the Chief Executive Officer and four other members. The members of the Group Executive Board are appointed by the Board of Directors based upon the proposal of the Personnel Committee.

The Organization Regulations of the Board of Directors regulate the duties and powers of the Board of Directors as a governing body, of the Chairman, the Vice Chairman and Lead Directors and the committees. Thus it also defines the rights and duties of the Group Executive Board that are set forth in more detail in the Internal Regulations for the Group Executive Board. The  Organization Regulations of the Board of Directors, the  Personnel Committee and the  Audit Committee can be viewed at  www.geberit.com/infocenter.

Information and control instruments vis-à-vis the Group Executive Board

At every meeting, the members of the Group Executive Board inform the Board of Directors of current business developments and major business transactions of the Group or Group companies, as the case may be. Between meetings, the Board of Directors is extensively informed in writing about current business developments and the company’s financial situation on a monthly basis. Essentially, this report contains key statements on the Group and on the market development, information and key figures on the Group sales and profit development (in January, April, July and October, it contains only statements on sales development and not on profit development), statements about the course of business in the individual product lines and countries as well as an analysis on the share price development. The more extensive quarterly report additionally contains the expectations of the operational management on the development of results until the end of the financial year, information on the development of the workforce and on the investments made, an updated company valuation, the composition of the shareholders as well as market expectations in regard to the business development. In the past year, the Board of Directors held seven ordinary meetings. In addition, decisions were made using conference calls.

Furthermore, the Vice Chairman and Lead Director of the Board of Directors and the Chief Executive Officer were in contact at regular intervals with respect to all major issues of corporate policy. Each member of the Board of Directors may individually demand information with respect to all matters of the Group or Group companies, as the case may be.

Based on the Organization Regulations of the Board of Directors, the Audit Committee has implemented an extensive system for monitoring and controlling the risks linked to the business activities. This process includes the risk identification, analysis, control and reporting. Operationally, the Group Executive Board is responsible for the controlling of the risk management. In addition, responsible persons are designated in the company for significant individual risks. These responsible parties decide on specific actions for the risk management and monitor their implementation. Every other year, the Internal Corporate Audit Department issues a risk report to the attention of the Audit Committee on the management of financial risks  See Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements, 4. Risk assessment and management. In addition, the internal Audit Department reports to the Audit Committee at every meeting on completed audits and on the status of the implementation of findings and optimization proposals of previous audits.