The set of rules covering the area of Polish financial institutions and companies listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange (GPW) are in particular ‘Best Practice for GPW Listed Companies 2016’ (hereinafter referred to also as ‘Best Practice’) adopted by the Board of the Warsaw Stock Exchange, binding from 1 January 2016, as well as the ‘Principles of Corporate Governance for Supervised Institutions’ (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Principles’) adopted by the Polish Financial Supervision Authority by its resolution of 22 July 2014, which have been binding since 1 January 2015.
The application of corporate governance principles guarantees the transparency of company operations and strengthens the protection of shareholder rights, also with respect to issues not regulated by generally applicable laws.
The complete text of the document „Best Practice for GPW Listed Companies 2016” is published on the GPW website, https://www.gpw.pl/pub/GPW/o-nas/DPSN2016_EN.pdf and the Bank’s website https://www.bankmillennium.pl/about-the-bank/corporate-bodies-and-governance.
The most important standard of the above-mentioned Best Practice and Principles is the ‘comply or explain’ rule, This rule means that a company is obliged to apply the principles stipulated in the document, and in the event of deviation from use of a particular principle the company must clarify the causes of such conduct and make this fact publicly known in the form of a report by using the GPW Electronic Information Database (in the case of Best Practice) or by means of a website (in the case of the Principles).
Like in previous years, in 2020 the Bank guided by the principle of transparency of its actions in shaping corporate and investor relations, as well as the highest quality of communication with shareholders, the Bank complied with the principles of Best Practice. The confirmation of employing the recommendations contained in Best Practice is the document ‘A statement on the company’s compliance with the corporate governance recommendations and principles contained in Best Practice for GPW Listed Companies 2016’ published on the Bank’s website.
As regards recommendation IV.R.2 item 2 and 3, regarding ensuring for the shareholders the opportunity to participate in a General Meeting of Shareholders (hereinafter, also ‘General Meeting’ or ‘GM’) with the use of real-time two-way electronic communication where shareholders may address a General Meeting of Shareholders from a location other than the General Meeting and exercise, in person or through a plenipotentiary, their voting rights in the course of the General Meeting – in the Bank’s opinion – the implementation of this rule during a General Meeting carries technical and legal risks to the correct and efficient conducting of a General Meeting. Avoiding these risks constitutes a bigger value for the shareholders than the implementation of the rule from part IV, Recommendation IV.R.2, item 2 of Best Practice. The Bank, ever since 2008, has been providing real-time online broadcasts of the proceedings of General Meetings, in accordance with the requirement specified in part IV, Recommendation IV.R.2 item 1 of Best Practice. At the same time, the Bank is working on implementation of possibility of ensuring to the shareholders real-time two-way communication during the proceedings of General.
The Bank as a financial institution has been subject, since the beginning of 2015, also to the ‘Principles of Corporate Governance for Supervised Institutions’ referred to at the outset, which are available on the website of the Polish Financial Supervision Authority https://www.knf.gov.pl/knf/en/komponenty/img/principles_of_corporate_governance_39736.pdf and on the Bank’s website https://www.bankmillennium.pl/about-the-bank/corporate-bodies-and-governance.
The Bank’s Management Board and the Supervisory Board took resolutions on the application of the Principles, with the exception of:
§ 8 sect. 4 – mandating the provision of the possibility to actively electronically participate in a meeting of a decision-making body,
§ 16 sect. 1 and § 24 sect. 1 – concerning the holding of meetings of the Bank’s governing bodies (Management Board and Supervisory Board) in the Polish language.
With reference to lack of the possibility to actively electronically participate in a General Meeting, the position of the Management Board and Supervisory Board reiterates the statement made with respect to the principle existing in Best Practice – as referred to above.
The knowledge of the English language by members of the Management Board enables full mutual understanding and a proper level of communication during meetings. Moreover, the practically implemented principle of holding meetings of the Supervisory Board both in Polish and in English, with the assurance of essential assistance of an interpreter, also ensures mutual understanding and a proper level of communication.
The General Meeting in its resolution passed on 21 May 2015 expressed a positive opinion regarding the position of the Management Board and Supervisory Board of the Bank about the scope of application of the Principles. At the same time the General Meeting in the aforementioned resolution regarding the principles addressed to the shareholders stated that it is of the view that exercising them should remain within the framework of generally applicable legal regulations, and whenever the Management Board or the Supervisory Board, acting within their powers, submit matters covered by these Principles, requesting a consideration of specific matters by the General Meeting, then they will be considered taking into account the circumstances of such submission.
In successive years General Meetings accepted the assessment of employing the Principles and assessment of the manner of carrying out the information duties relating to the employment of Best Practice. Likewise, in 2020 the General Meeting by its Resolution of 20 March 2020 accepted the Report on the Activity of the Bank Millennium S.A. Supervisory Board in 2019 covering the assessment of compliance with the ‘Principles of Corporate Governance for Supervised Institutions’ and of assessment the manner of carrying out the information duties regarding the compliance with the ‘Code of Best Practice for WSE Listed Companies (2016)’, the Bank’s Supervisory Board by its Resolution No 3/2020 of 31 January 2020 found that the Bank in 2019 correctly implemented the Principles to the extent established by resolutions of the Bank’s governing bodies.
Bank Millennium has been included in the WIG-ESG index since 2019. Previously, for 12 years, it belonged to the Respect index, which was withdrawn on January 1, 2020 and was replaced by the WIG-ESG index. The companies included in the Index operate on the basis of best standards of corporate governance, information policy and investor relations, including ecological, social and employee issues. index WIG-ESG comprising 60 companies included in the WIG20 and mWIG40 indices. Weights of companies in WIG-ESG depend on the number of free float shares adjusted for the results of the ESG ranking prepared by Sustainalytics and the assessment of the application of the principles of corporate governance.