SHAREHOLDERS’ RIGHTS OF PARTICIPATION
Restrictions of voting rights and proxy
The transfer of nominal shares and consequently the recognition of the buyer of nominal shares as a shareholder with voting rights, as well as the registering of nominees as shareholders with voting rights are subject to certain restrictions. According to article 3, subsection 6 of the Articles of Association in particular, the Board of Directors may refuse full shareholder status to a buyer of shares if the number of shares held by that buyer exceeds 4% of the total registered shares as entered in the commercial register. Details of restrictions placed on the transfer of registered shares and limitations of nominee registrations, the Group clause included in the Articles of Association and the rules for granting exceptions, may be found here and in the respective regulation of the Board of Directors “Registered Share and Shareholder Registry Regulations Lindt & Sprüngli AG”.
According to article 12, subsection 3 of the Articles of Association, no shareholder may combine, in the aggregate, directly or indirectly, whether with his own shares or with those voted by proxy, more than 6% of total voting shares when exercising voting rights at the General Meeting. Natural persons or legal entities, which are linked to each other either by number of shares, pooling of votes, or similar actions or are under common custody, are considered as one shareholder. In special cases, the Board of Directors may make exceptions to the voting rights restrictions. In the reporting year, the Board of Directors granted no such exception.
The voting rights restriction does not apply to the exercise of those rights by the independent voting rights representative and by shareholders with more than 6% of the voting rights whose names are recorded in the share register. Because the “Fonds für Pensionsergänzungen der Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Sprüngli AG”, “Finanzierungsstiftung für die Vorsorgeeinrichtungen der Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Sprüngli Aktiengesellschaft”, “Lindt Cocoa Foundation”, and “Lindt Chocolate Competence Foundation”, all Kilchberg ZH, have been entered as a group in the share register with a shareholding interest of more than 6%, the voting rights limitation does not apply to that fund.
A revocation of the statutory restrictions of voting rights requires a three-quarter majority of the votes represented at the General Meeting. Pursuant to Art. 12, paragraph 2 of the Articles of Association, a shareholder may arrange to be represented at the General Meeting by another shareholder or by the independent voting rights representative on the basis of a written power of attorney. A general instruction may be given for voting either on motions announced or unannounced in the invitation to attend.
The General Meeting passes its resolutions by an absolute majority of the votes represented, unless the Articles of Association, or the law, specify otherwise. According to Art. 15, subsection 3 of the Articles of Association, amendments of the Articles of Association regarding the relocation of headquarters, transformation of nominal shares into bearer shares, assignment of nominal shares, representation of shares at the General Meeting, amendment of Art. 15, subsection 3 of the Articles of Association, as well as the dissolution or the merger of the company require a three-quarter majority vote of represented shares.
Announcement of the annual General Meeting, agenda and share register
Shareholders are given notice by the Board of Directors at least 20 days prior to the date of the General Meeting via publication in the Swiss Handelsamtsblatt.
A shareholder whose name appears in the share register as owning at least 2% of the equity capital of the company may ask for an item to be placed on the agenda. The request for an item to be placed on the agenda – stating the matters to be discussed and proposals made – must be sent to the Board of Directors in writing no less than 60 days before the meeting. These requests for items to be placed on the agenda and the accompanying proposals must be placed before the General Meeting together with the Board of Directors’ opinion about them. During the General Meeting, requests and justifications for items not on the agenda may be brought up before the meeting for discussion. A decision about these items, however, may not be made until the next General Meeting after review by the Board of Directors.
Requests made within the realm of the agenda items do not need prior announcement. In the invitation to attend the General Meeting, the Board of Directors indicates the cut-off date for entry in the share register, which entitles the shareholder to attend and vote.