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Board organisation and structure

The role of the Board

The Board is responsible for the overall conduct of the Group’s business and has the powers, authorities and duties vested in it by and pursuant to the relevant laws of England and Wales and the articles of association. The Board:

  • has final responsibility for the management, direction and performance of the Group and its businesses;
  • is required to exercise objective judgement on all corporate matters independent from executive management;
  • is accountable to shareholders for the proper conduct of the business; and
  • is responsible for ensuring the effectiveness of and reporting on the Group’s system of corporate governance.

The Board has a formal schedule of matters reserved to it for its decision and these include:

  • Group strategy;
  • major capital projects, acquisitions or divestments;
  • annual budget and operating plan;
  • Group financial structure, including tax and treasury;
  • annual and half-year financial results and shareholder communications;
  • system of internal control and risk management; and
  • senior management structure, responsibilities and succession plans.

The schedule is reviewed periodically. It was last formally reviewed by the Nominations and Governance Committee in March 2009, at which time it was determined that no amendments were required.

Other specific responsibilities are delegated to Board committees which operate within clearly defined terms of reference. Details of the responsibilities delegated to the Board Committees are given here.

Board meetings

The Board meets at least eight times a year and the meetings are structured to allow open discussion. All directors participate in discussing the strategy, trading and financial performance and risk management of the Company. All substantive agenda items have comprehensive briefing papers, which are circulated one week before the meeting.

The following table shows the number of years directors have been on the Board at 31 March 2009 and their attendance at scheduled Board meetings they were eligible to attend during the 2009 financial year:

on Board
Sir John Bond 4 9/9
John Buchanan 6 7/9
Vittorio Colao 2 9/9
Andy Halford 3 9/9
Alan Jebson 2 9/9
Nick Land 2 8/9
Anne Lauvergeon 3 8/9
Simon Murray 2 8/9
Luc Vandevelde 5 9/9
Anthony Watson 3 9/9
Philip Yea 3 8/9
Arun Sarin (until 29 July 2008) 3/3
Dr Michael Boskin (until 29 July 2008) 3/3
Professor Jürgen Schrempp (until 29 July 2008) 2/3

In addition to regular Board meetings, there are a number of other meetings to deal with specific matters. Directors unable to attend a Board meeting because of another engagement are nevertheless provided with all the papers and information relevant for such meetings and are able to discuss issues arising in the meeting with the Chairman or the Chief Executive.

Division of responsibilities

The roles of the Chairman and Chief Executive are separate and there is a division of responsibilities that is clearly established, set out in writing and agreed by the Board to ensure that no one person has unfettered powers of decision. The Chairman is responsible for the operation, leadership and governance of the Board, ensuring its effectiveness and setting its agenda. The Chief Executive is responsible for the management of the Group’s business and the implementation of Board strategy and policy.

Board balance and independence

The Company’s Board consists of 14 directors, 11 of whom served throughout the 2009 financial year. At 31 March 2009, in addition to the Chairman, Sir John Bond, there were two executive directors and eight non-executive directors. Samuel Jonah was appointed as an additional non-executive director with effect from 1 April 2009 and Michel Combes and Steve Pusey as additional executive directors with effect from 1 June 2009.

The Deputy Chairman, John Buchanan, is the nominated senior independent director and his role includes being available for approach or representation by directors or significant shareholders who may feel inhibited by raising issues with the Chairman. He is also responsible for conducting an annual review of the performance of the Chairman and, in the event it should be necessary, convening a meeting of the non-executive directors.

The Company considers all of its present non-executive directors to be fully independent. The Board is aware of the other commitments of its directors and is satisfied that these do not conflict with their duties as directors of the Company.

There are no cross-directorships or significant links between directors serving on the Board through involvement in other companies or bodies. For the purpose of section 175 of the Companies Act 2006, the Company’s articles of association include a general power for the directors to authorise any matter which would or might otherwise constitute or give rise to a breach of the duty of a director under this section, to avoid a situation in which he has, or can have, a direct or indirect interest that conflicts or may possibly conflict, with the interests of the Company. To this end, procedures have been established for the disclosure of any such conflicts and also for the consideration and authorisation of these conflicts by the Board, where relevant. The directors are required to complete a conflicts questionnaire, initially on appointment and annually thereafter. In the event of a potential conflict being identified, details of that conflict would be submitted to the Board (excluding the director to whom the potential conflict related) for consideration and, as appropriate, authorisation in accordance with the Companies Act 2006 and the articles of association. Where an authorisation was granted, it would be recorded in a register of potential conflicts and reviewed periodically. On an ongoing basis, directors are responsible for notifying the Company Secretary if they become aware of actual or potential conflict situations or a change in circumstances relating to an existing authorisation. To date, no conflicts of interest have been identified.

The names and biographical details of the current directors are given here. Changes to the commitments of the directors are reported to the Board.

Under the laws of England and Wales, the executive and non-executive directors are equal members of the Board and have overall collective responsibility for the direction of the Company. In particular, non-executive directors are responsible for:

  • bringing a wide range of skills and experience to the Group, including independent judgement on issues of strategy, performance, financial controls and systems of risk management;
  • constructively challenging the strategy proposed by the Chief Executive and executive directors;
  • scrutinising and challenging performance across the Group’s business;
  • assessing risk and the integrity of the financial information and controls of the Group; and
  • ensuring appropriate remuneration and succession planning arrangements are in place in relation to executive directors and other senior executive roles.