Disclosures Required Under Takeover Law
This chapter contains the Volkswagen Group’s disclosures relating to takeover law required by sections 289a(1) and 315a(1) of the HGB.
Volkswagen AG’s share capital amounted to €1,283,315,873.28 (€1,283,315,873.28) on December 31, 2020. It was composed of 295,089,818 ordinary shares and 206,205,445 preferred shares. Each share conveys a notional interest of €2.56 in the share capital.
SHAREHOLDER RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS
The shares convey pecuniary and administrative rights. The pecuniary rights include in particular the shareholders’ right to participate in profits (section 58(4) of the Aktiengesetz (AktG – German Stock Corporation Act)), the right to participate in liquidation proceeds (section 271 of the AktG) and preemptive rights to shares in the event of capital increases (section 186 of the AktG) that can be disapplied by the Annual General Meeting with the approval of the Special Meeting of Preferred Shareholders, where appropriate. Administrative rights include the right to attend the Annual General Meeting, to speak there, to ask questions, to propose motions and to exercise voting rights. Shareholders can enforce these rights in particular through actions seeking disclosure and actions for avoidance.
Each ordinary share grants the holder one vote at the Annual General Meeting. The Annual General Meeting elects shareholder representatives to the Supervisory Board and elects the auditors; in particular, it resolves on the appropriation of net profit, formally approves the actions of the Board of Management and the Supervisory Board, and resolves on amendments to the Articles of Association of Volkswagen AG, capitalization measures and authorizations to purchase treasury shares; if required, it also resolves on the performance of a special audit, the removal before the end of their term of office of Supervisory Board members elected at the Annual General Meeting and the winding-up of the Company.
Preferred shareholders generally have no voting rights. However, in the exceptional case that they are granted voting rights by law (for example, when preferred share dividends were not paid in one year and not compensated for in full in the following year), each preferred share also grants the holder one vote at the Annual General Meeting. Furthermore, preferred shares entitle the holder to a €0.06 higher dividend than ordinary shares (further details on this right to preferred and additional dividends are specified in Article 27(2) of the Articles of Association of Volkswagen AG).
The Gesetz über die Überführung der Anteilsrechte an der Volkswagenwerk Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung in private Hand (VW-Gesetz – Act on the Privatization of Shares of Volkswagenwerk Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung) of July 21, 1960, as amended on July 30, 2009, includes various provisions in derogation of the German Stock Corporation Act, for example on the exercise of voting rights by proxy (section 3 of the VW-Gesetz) and on majority voting requirements at the Annual General Meeting (section 4(3) of the VW-Gesetz).
In accordance with the Volkswagen AG Articles of Association (Article 11(1)), the State of Lower Saxony is entitled to appoint two members of the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG for as long as it directly or indirectly holds at least 15% of Volkswagen AG’s ordinary shares. In addition, resolutions by the Annual General Meeting that are required by law to be adopted by a qualified majority require a majority of more than four-fifths of the share capital of the Company represented when the resolution is adopted (Article 25(2)), regardless of the provisions of the VW-Gesetz.
SHAREHOLDINGS EXCEEDING 10% OF VOTING RIGHTS
Shareholdings in Volkswagen AG that exceed 10% of voting rights are shown in the notes to the annual financial statements of Volkswagen AG, which are available online at https://www.volkswagenag.com/en/InvestorRelations.html. The current notifications regarding changes in voting rights in accordance with the Wertpapierhandelsgesetz (WpHG – German Securities Trading Act) are also published on this website.
COMPOSITION OF THE SUPERVISORY BOARD
The Supervisory Board consists of 20 members, half of whom are shareholder representatives. In accordance with Article 11(1) of the Articles of Association of Volkswagen AG, the State of Lower Saxony is entitled to appoint two of these shareholder representatives for as long as it directly or indirectly holds at least 15% of the Company’s ordinary shares. The remaining shareholder representatives on the Supervisory Board are elected by the Annual General Meeting.
The other half of the Supervisory Board consists of employee representatives elected by the employees in accordance with the Mitbestimmungsgesetz (MitbestG – German Codetermination Act). A total of seven of these employee representatives are Company employees elected by the workforce; the other three employee representatives are trade union representatives elected by the workforce.
The Chairman of the Supervisory Board is generally a shareholder representative elected by the other members of the Supervisory Board. In the event that a Supervisory Board vote is tied, the Chairman of the Supervisory Board has a casting vote in accordance with the MitbestG.
The goals for the composition of the Supervisory Board and information about its composition are described in the Group Corporate Governance Declaration.
STATUTORY REQUIREMENTS AND REQUIREMENTS OF THE ARTICLES OF ASSOCIATION WITH REGARD TO THE APPOINTMENT AND REMOVAL OF BOARD OF MANAGEMENT MEMBERS AND TO AMENDMENTS TO THE ARTICLES OF ASSOCIATION
The appointment and removal of members of the Board of Management are governed by sections 84 and 85 of the AktG, which specify that members of the Board of Management are appointed by the Supervisory Board for a maximum of five years. Board of Management members may be reappointed or have their term of office extended for a maximum of five years in each case. In addition, Article 6 of the Articles of Association of Volkswagen AG states that the number of Board of Management members is stipulated by the Supervisory Board and that the Board of Management must consist of at least three persons.
The Annual General Meeting resolves amendments to the Articles of Association (section 119(1) of the AktG). In accordance with section 4(3) of the VW-Gesetz as amended on July 30, 2009 and Article 25(2) of the Articles of Association of Volkswagen AG, Annual General Meeting resolutions to amend the Articles of Association require a majority of more than four-fifths of the share capital represented.
POWERS OF THE BOARD OF MANAGEMENT, IN PARTICULAR CONCERNING THE ISSUE OF NEW SHARES AND THE REPURCHASE OF TREASURY SHARES
According to German stock corporation law, the Annual General Meeting can authorize the Board of Management, for a maximum period of five years, to issue new shares. It can also authorize the Board of Management, for a maximum period of five years, to issue bonds on the basis of which new shares are to be issued. The Annual General Meeting also decides the extent to which shareholders have preemptive rights to the new shares or bonds. The maximum amount of authorized share capital or contingent capital available for these purposes is determined by Article 4 of the Articles of Association of Volkswagen AG, as amended.
At the Annual General Meeting on May 14, 2019, a resolution was passed authorizing the Board of Management, with the consent of the Supervisory Board, to increase the Company’s share capital by a total of up to €179.2 million (corresponding to 70 million shares) on one or more occasions up to May 13, 2024 by issuing new nonvoting preferred shares against cash contributions.
Further details of the authorization to issue new shares and their permitted uses may be found in the notes to the consolidated financial statements.
MATERIAL AGREEMENTS OF THE PARENT COMPANY IN THE EVENT OF A CHANGE OF CONTROL FOLLOWING A TAKEOVER BID
At the end of fiscal year 2019, a banking syndicate granted Volkswagen AG a syndicated line of credit amounting to €10.0 billion that currently runs until December 2025. With the new line of credit, the syndicate members were granted the right to call their portion of the syndicated line of credit in two cases. A call right exists if one individual or several individuals acting jointly who as of the date of this agreement exercise control over the Company have legal or economic ownership of shares that together make up more than 90% of the voting rights of the Company. However, a call right also exists if one individual or several individuals acting jointly who as of the date of this agreement do not exercise control over the Company obtain control over the Company. Such a call right does not exist, however, if one shareholder or several shareholders of Porsche Automobil Holding SE or one or several legal entities from the Porsche or Piëch family directly or indirectly obtains control over the Company.
Volkswagen AG and the Ford Motor Company entered into a Master Collaboration Agreement in January 2019. This agreement sets out a framework of obligations, which are to apply to the further co-operation agreements entered into between the parties, including those entered into in fiscal year 2020. It also covers the Development Agreement concluded in January 2019 for the development of the next-generation Amarok. The Master Collaboration Agreement provides for a right of termination with immediate effect in the event of a Change of Control. A Change of Control has been defined to mean a change affecting more than 50% of the voting rights of one of the companies or a change in the ability to directly or indirectly control the management of one company through its decision making bodies. The right of termination must be exercised within 90 days of the company becoming aware of a Change of Control.