Corporate governance statement 2018
Verkkokauppa.com Oyj (hereinafter, the “Company” or “Verkkokauppa.com”) is a public Finnish limited liability company. The shares of the Company are traded on the First North Helsinki market place of Nasdaq Helsinki Ltd. (“First North”). The Company’s governance is subject to the Finnish Companies Act, the Securities Market Act, the Accounting Act, the rules of First North Helsinki as well as the Company’s Articles of Association. As the Company’s shares are not listed on the main list of Nasdaq Helsinki Ltd. the Company is not subject to the Finnish Corporate Governance Code 2015 ratified by the Securities Market Association (the “CG Code”). However, to the extent practicable, the Company seeks to comply with the CG Code as applicable. Compliance with the CG Code is based on a comply-or-explain principle, whereby departures from the CG Code shall be explained and disclosed. The CG Code is available at the website of the Securities Market Association www.cgfinland.fi/en.
The Company complies with all of the recommendations of the CG Code.
The Company’s Corporate Governance Statement is available on the Company’s website www.verkkokauppa.com/en/investors/governance.
The parent company of the group is Verkkokauppa.com Oyj. The domicile of the Company is Helsinki, Finland. The parent company is the main operating company of the Verkokauppa.com group of companies. The Company has a subsidiary, Archtecho OÜ located in Estonia. The subsidiary is dormant and has been dormant for over the past seven (7) years. The Company has commenced a liquidation procedure for the dissolution of Arctecho Oü.
The Company’s governance is organised through the General Meeting, the Board of Directors and the Chief Executive officer. Further, the Company has a management team and an extended management team led by the Chief Executive Officer.
The highest decision-making power in Verkkokauppa.com is exercised by the Company’s shareholders at General Meetings, in which the shareholders may exercise their right to speak, ask questions and vote. The Annual General Meeting is held by the end of June each year and it handles the matters that fall under its authority according to the Articles of Association as well as any matters proposed to a General Meeting.
Extraordinary General Meetings are convened by the Board of Directors if needed to handle specific matters proposed to a General Meeting. Shareholders holding a minimum of 10% of all shares and the Company’s auditor may request the handling of a specified matter at a General Meeting, which the Board of Directors shall then convene.
Usually General Meetings handle the matters placed on its agenda by the Board of Directors. According to the Finnish Companies Act, shareholders may also request the Company’s Board of Directors to place a matter on the agenda of the next General Meeting. The Company states well in advance on its website the date by which a shareholder must declare his or her demands for matters to be dealt with at the Annual General Meeting. The demand is deemed to have arrived in sufficient time, if the Board of Directors has been notified of the demand four (4) weeks before the delivery of the notice of the General Meeting at the latest. The Board of Directors prepares the proposals to the General Meeting relating to the composition of the Board of Directors and the remuneration of the Board of Directors.
Major matters subject to the decision-making power of a General Meeting include:
- amendments to the Articles of Association;
- increases or decreases in share capital;
- issuance of shares;
- decisions on the number, election and remuneration of members of the Board of Directors;
- adoption of the financial statements; and
- distribution of profits / allocation of losses.
Notice to the General Meeting
The shareholders of the Company are summoned to the General Meeting by publishing the notice on the Company’s website. The notice shall be published not earlier than three (3) months before and not later than nine (9) days prior to the General Meeting record date. In addition, the Board of Directors may publish a summary notice of the General Meeting in one (1) or more national daily newspapers. The notice shall state the matters to be handled at the General Meeting and other information required in Finnish Companies Act and CG Code.
The notice and the proposals of the Board of Directors to the General Meeting are also published by means of a company release.
The notice to the General Meeting and the following information are made available on the Company´s website at least three (3) weeks before the General Meeting:
- The proposals and, if the General Meeting is to deal with the financial statements, the financial statements, the annual report and the auditor’s report. At a minimum, this information shall further be kept available at the venue of the General Meeting;
- The documents to be submitted to the General Meeting; and
- Draft resolutions to the General Meeting.
If a decision pertains to a share issue, the issue of option rights or other special rights entitling to shares, the increase of the share capital from reserves, the payment of dividend, the distribution of reserves of unrestricted equity, the decrease of the share capital, the acquisition or redemption of own shares, or the Company going into liquidation, and the financial statements are not to be dealt with at the meeting, the following information is made available on the Company´s website at least three (3) weeks before the General Meeting:
- The latest financial statements, annual report and auditor’s report;
- The possible decisions on the distribution of assets, made after the end of the preceding financial period;
- Any interim reports prepared as of a date after the end of the preceding financial period; and
- A statement by the Board of Directors on the events occurring after the latest financial statements or interim report and having an essential effect on the state of the Company
Shareholders registered in the Company’s shareholder register kept by Euroclear Finland Ltd on the record date of the General Meeting have the right to attend the General Meeting and exercise their voting rights. Shareholders may exercise their rights at the General Meeting either in person or through an authorized proxy representative.
The minutes of the General Meeting including the voting results and any appendices that are part of a decision made by the General Meeting shall be posted on the Company website within two (2) weeks after the General Meeting. The decisions of the General Meeting are also published by means of a company release immediately after the General Meeting. The documents related to the General Meeting shall be available on the Company´s website at least for five (5) years after the General Meeting.
Attendance of the members of the Board of Directors and the Chief Executive Officer
The Chief Executive Officer, the chairperson and the members of the Board of Directors shall attend the General Meeting. In addition, the auditor shall be present at the Annual General Meeting. A candidate proposed to be elected to the Board of Directors shall participate in the General Meeting that decides on his or her election.
The Company has one (1) series of shares, which entitle its holders to one (1) vote per share owned at the General Meeting. Most resolutions by the General Meeting require a simple majority of the votes cast at the meeting. In an election, the person receiving the highest number of votes shall be deemed elected. The General Meeting may, however, prior to an election, decide that to be elected, a person shall receive more than half of the votes cast. However, there are several matters, such as directed share issues, which according to the Finnish Companies Act require a 2/3 majority of the votes cast and of the shares represented at the meeting.
The Articles of Association of Verkkokauppa.com include no redemption clauses or voting limitations.
Board of Directors
Composition and term
Under the Articles of Association, the Board of Directors consists of at least four (4) and at most eight (8) members. The members of the Board of Directors are elected by the Annual General Meeting of the shareholders and the term of office of the members of the Board of Directors expires at the end of the Annual General Meeting following their election.
The Articles of Association set no limitations regarding the number of terms that Directors may serve, nor do they restrict in any other way the decision-making power of the General Meeting in electing members of the Board of Directors. However, the General Meeting may take into account all recommendations stipulated by the CG Code regarding the composition of the Board of Directors, especially with regards to meeting the independence and other requirements applicable to publicly or multilaterally listed companies in Finland. The Board of Directors elects one of its members as the chairperson of the Board of Directors and may elect a deputy chairperson.
The Board of Directors have drawn up a written charter for its work. The essential contents of it are included in the following.
Current composition of the Board of Directors
The Board of Directors consists of the following six (6) members elected at the Annual General Meeting held March 21, 2018 for a term until the close of the next Annual General Meeting: Christoffer Häggblom, Robert Burén, Mikael Hagman, Kai Seikku, Samuli Seppälä and Arja Talma. At the constitutive meeting of the Board of Directors, convened after the Annual General Meeting, Christoffer Häggblom was elected as the Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Based on the evaluation of independence, the Board of Directors concluded that Christoffer Häggblom, Robert Burén, Kai Seikku and Arja Talma are independent of the Company, and that Christoffer Häggblom, Robert Burén, Mikael Hagman, Kai Seikku and Arja Talma are independent of the Company’s significant shareholders. Samuli Seppälä is neither independent of the Company nor its significant shareholders.
Information reported on the members of the Board of Directors can be found on the spread “Board of Directors”.
Duties of the Board of Directors
The duties of the Company’s Board of Directors are set forth in the Companies Act and other applicable legislation. The Board of Directors is responsible for the management of the Company. Its responsibilities include, inter alia, to:
- deliberate and decide on the Company’s strategy;
- confirm the business plan and budget as well as financing transactions (as far as not falling into the responsibility of the shareholders);
- deliberate on and approve interim reports and/or interim management statements, the annual accounts and the reports by the Board of Directors;
- confirm internal control and risk management systems and reporting procedures;
- decide on possible bonus and incentive schemes for the management and possible general or special pension schemes, profit sharing schemes or bonus schemes for employees of the Company;
- decide on any contracts which, given the scope and nature of activities of the Company, are of unusual nature, or significant importance such as long-term lease contracts;
- follow-up on related party transactions; and
- appoint or dismiss the CEO. Other employees belonging to the management team of the Company are appointed by the CEO and approved by the Board of Directors.
The Company established three board committees for the preparation of board matters beginning from 2018. The board committees are Audit Committee, Nomination and Remuneration Committee and Strategy Committee. The Board of Directors elects the members of these committees from among the Board members at its constitutive meeting after the Annual General Meeting. The Board of Directors has confirmed written charters for the committees. The committees report to the Board of Directors.
The Audit Committee shall prepare the monitoring and supervision duties of the board in matters related to the Company's financial reporting, efficiency of internal control and audit and risk management function and the independence of the Company's auditor. Until the Annual General Meeting held March 21, 2018, the Audit Committee consisted of Kai Seikku (Chairman), Christoffer Häggblom and Minna Kurunsaari, whereafter it has consisted of Kai Seikku (Chairman), Christoffer Häggblom, Samuli Seppälä and Arja Talma. The majority of the members of the Audit Committee are independent of the Company and the Company’s significant shareholders. Qualification requirements regarding the members of the committee have been taken into consideration when appointing the members.
The Nomination and Remuneration Committee shall ensure the efficient preparation of nomination and remuneration matters in relation to board members, the chief executive officer and the other senior members of executive management. Until the Annual General Meeting held March 21, 2018, the Nomination and Remuneration Committee consisted of Christoffer Häggblom (Chairman), Robert Burén and Kai Seikku, whereafter, it has consisted of Christoffer Häggblom (Chairman), Kai Seikku and Samuli Seppälä. The majority of the members of the Nomination and Remuneration Committee are independent of the Company and the Company’s significant shareholders.
The Strategy Committee shall assist the Board with matters relating to the strategy of the Company, including also strategic level considerations in relation to the Company's IT issues and its retail operations. The Strategy Committee has consisted of Samuli Seppälä (Chairman), Christoffer Häggblom, Robert Burén and Mikael Hagman.
Participations in Board and Committee meetings 2018
|Name||Board of Directors||Audit Committee||Nomination and Remuneration Committee||Strategy Committee|
|Christoffer Häggblom||21/21 (Chairman)||6/6||6/6 (Chairman)||4/9|
|Minna Kurunsaari 1)||5/5||1/1||-||-|
|Kai Seikku||17/21||6/6 (Chairman)||6/6||-|
|Samuli Seppälä||21/21||4/5||5/5||9/9 (Chairman)|
1) Member of the Board of Directors until March 21, 2018
2) Member of the Board of Directors from March 21, 2018
The Board of Directors held 21 meetings during 2018. The average ratio of attendance at the meetings was 96 % percent. Verkkokauppa.com does not have a supervisory board.
Meetings of the Board of Directors are convened by its chairperson. The Board of Directors constitutes a quorum when more than half of the members appointed by the General Meeting are present at the meeting. When votes are cast, the majority opinion will be the Board of Directors’ decision and, in the case of a tie, the chairperson will have the casting vote.
The Board of Directors is always obliged to act in the Company’s interests and in such a way that its acts or measures are not likely to produce unjustified benefit to any shareholder or other third party at the cost of the Company or another shareholder.
A member of the Board of Directors is disqualified from participating in the handling of a matter pertaining to a contract or other transaction between the member of the Board of Directors and the Company or of such matter where the member is to derive an essential benefit and that benefit may be contrary to the interests of the Company. In principle, a member of the Board of Directors may not participate in the handling of a matter if the member of the Board of Directors is involved in the matter under assessment in another capacity.
The Board of Directors shall convene as frequently as necessary to discharge its responsibilities. The Chief Executive Officer ensures that the Board of Directors is provided with sufficient information to assess the operations and financial situation of the Company.
The secretary of the Board of Directors was Jussi Tallgren until September 2018, after which Robert Tallberg held the position.
The Board of Directors conducts annual performance self-evaluations, in addition to brief feedback sessions following each physical meeting.
Principles concerning the diversity of the Board of Directors
The Company has defined the principles concerning the diversity of the Board of Directors in accordance with the recommendation 9 of the CG Code.
It is in the Company’s and its shareholders’ interest that the members of the Board of Directors have a broad expertise from different fields and business areas. The diversity of the Board of Directors supports the Company’s business and its development, open discussion and independent decision-making.
In the preparation of the proposal for the composition of the Board of Directors, the requirements placed by the Company’s strategy, operations and development phase as well as the sufficient diversity of the Board of Directors are taken into account. The diversity of the Board of Directors is examined from different perspectives. Important factors for the Company are the age and gender distribution, academic and professional background as well as strong, versatile and mutually complementary expertise, experience and knowledge in the different business areas important to the Company.
The proposal regarding the composition of the Board of Directors is based on the competence of the candidate and the Company aims to elect Board members whose experience and profile correspond with the Company’s current and future business needs. The Board members are elected annually at the Annual General Meeting of the shareholders.
The Company’s goal is that both genders are represented on the Board of Directors and that in the long-term a more balanced representation of both genders on the Board is achieved. As means to achieve this objective, the Board of Directors seeks to include representatives of both genders in the Board candidate search and evaluation process and to actively communicate this objective to the shareholders of the Company.
During this accounting period one Board member was a female and the remaining members were male. The Company’s goal concerning the representation of both genders has thus been fulfilled.
Management team members during 2018
|Panu Porkka||CEO||March 22 – December 31, 2018|
|Samuli Seppälä||CEO||January 1 – March 21, 2018|
|Timo Halonen 1)||Services Director||January 1 – April 3, 2018|
|Miika Heinonen||Logistics Director||January 1 – December 31, 2018|
|Esa Hjerppe1)||Web Sales and Marketing Director||January 1 – April 3, 2018|
|Tommi Jylhä-Vuorio||Sales Director||August 6 – September 5, 2018|
|Vesa Järveläinen||Purchasing Director||January 1 – December 31, 2018|
|Seppo Niemelä||Marketing and Communications Director||August 6 – December 31, 2018|
|Markus Pätilä1)||Sales Director, retail stores||January 1 – April 3, 2018|
|Jussi Tallgren||CFO||January 1 – December 31, 2018|
|Henrik Weckström||CTO||January 1 – December 31, 2018|
1) Member of the extended management team as of April 3, 2018.
In addition, as of January 1, 2019 the management team includes HR Director Taina Suorsa and as of February 25, 2019 Chief Sales Officer Kalle Koutajoki.
The management team members handle the issues that concern managing of the Company in their respective areas and on the basis of the guidance provided by the Board of Directors. The management team assists the Chief Executive Officer in running the Company. The management team members prepare matters that are to be put before the Board of Directors for decision-making, e.g. the Company’s strategies, budgets and policies as well as significant acquisitions and divestments. In addition, the management team handles matters pertaining to reporting, internal and external communication, personnel development, hiring of employees and their terms of employment as well as investor relations. The management team has no formal status under company law.
Information reported on the members of the management team and the Chief Executive Officer can be found on the spread “Management team”.
Chief Executive Officer
The Chief Executive Officer is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Company in accordance with the instructions and guidance given by the Board of Directors and ensuring that the accounting practices of the Company comply with the law and that the financial management of the Company has been arranged in a reliable manner.
The Chief Executive Officer primarily presents the matters handled in meetings of the Board of Directors and is responsible for preparing draft resolutions. The Board of Directors elects the Chief Executive Officer and decides on the remuneration of the Chief Executive Officer and on other terms of the Chief Executive Officer contract. The Chief Executive Officer may not be elected chairperson of the Board of Directors, nor be a member of the Nomination and Remuneration Committee.
In accordance with the CG Code, the Company annually publishes its Remuneration Statement on the Company’s website.
Internal control in Verkkokauppa.com
Internal control is under the responsibility of the Board of Directors, and its function is, among other things, to ensure the efﬁciency and proﬁtability of operations, the reliability of information, and the adherence to rules and regulations. Internal control is a part of day-to-day management and company administration.
Internal audits are an integral part of internal control. The Board of Directors is responsible for organising the internal audit, and the internal audit services are purchased from an external service provider. The internal audit reports its observations to the Audit Committee and the Board of Directors. The internal audit supports the management in directing operations by inspecting and evaluating the efﬁciency of business operations, risk management and internal control, and by producing information and recommendations to enhance efﬁciency. The internal audit also inspects the processes of business operations and ﬁnancial reporting. The operations of the internal audit are based on a risk-focused approach and the focus areas of the business operations and its development.
The Company’s Board of Directors approved on January 16, 2014 a risk management operating model for the Company. According to the Company’s risk management operating model, the objective of risk management is to raise risk awareness and enhance proactive risk management in the organisation, increase the competitiveness of the organisation by reducing negative risks and increasing positive risks, ensure a sufficient level of risk management for the whole organisation, manage risks as part of business activities and define responsibilities of risk management in the organisation. The Board of Directors decides on the Company’s risk management policy and defines the framework for the level of risk management in the Company. The Audit Committee monitors and regularly evaluates the risk management systems. The Company’s operative management is responsible for actual measures related to risk management in accordance with the Company’s risk management policy.
Main features of the internal control and risk management systems pertaining to the ﬁnancial reporting process
The Board of Directors and the CEO have the overall responsibility for organising the internal control and risk management systems for financial reporting. The Company’s Chief Financial Officer and the Finance and Control Department are responsible for the financial reporting.
The reporting is based on information from commercial and administrative processes and data produced by the ﬁnancial management systems. The Company’s Finance and Control Department determines the control measures applied to the ﬁnancial reporting process, which include various guidelines, process descriptions, reconciliations, and analyses used for ensuring the validity of the information used in the reporting and the validity of the reporting itself.
The ﬁnancial reporting results are monitored and any anomalies in relation to forecasts or in comparison with the previous year’s ﬁgures are analysed on a regular basis. Such analyses are used to detect any reporting errors and to produce materially accurate information on the Company’s ﬁnances.
The Company’s Finance and Control Department is responsible for the effectiveness of internal control. The Finance and Control Department is responsible for assessments of the reporting processes. The risks pertaining to financial reporting and the related management measures are determined as part of the risk management process.
The guiding principle of the communications of the Company is to continuously provide the market with consistent, correct, relevant, and reliable information on the Company to ensure that capital market participants have as transparent and clear a picture of the Company as possible on the basis of which they can assess the value of the Company’s securities. In its communication the Company adheres to the principles of the Finnish Companies Act and Securities Market Act of equal and simultaneous access to information and other applicable regulation and strives to make disclosures without undue delay.
According to the rules of First North, companies, the shares of which are subject to multilateral trading on the First North marketplace of Nasdaq Helsinki, shall have entered into an agreement with a certified advisor. The certified adviser of Verkkokauppa.com is Nordea Bank Abp (the “Certified Adviser”).
The Company’s official reporting languages are Finnish and English. All published releases, annual reports, details of the current Board of Directors and management team and the name of the Certified Adviser is kept available on the Company’s website www.verkkokauppa.com.
The Board of Directors has adopted a disclosure policy in accordance which governs the disclosures of Verkkokauppa.com.
The Company observes the insider guidelines issued by Nasdaq Helsinki Ltd. and which are applicable to Companies, the shares of which are traded on First North. The Company’s insider policy approved by the Company’s Board of Directors complements applicable insider regulation and sets out guidelines for the Company’s insiders and the insider administration. Verkkokauppa.com’s insider policy is regularly updated and compliance therewith monitored on an ongoing basis. The Company has appointed Jussi Tallgren, CFO, as the insider officer.
The Market Abuse Regulation (MAR) entered into force on July 3, 2016, with provisions on the Company’s duty of disclosure, management of insider information, reporting and disclosure of management’s and their related parties’ transactions and insider lists.
Under MAR, the duty of disclosure has been coupled with the emergence of insider information. According to MAR, the disclosure of insider information can be delayed at the issuer’s risk if the immediate disclosure would likely prejudice the legitimate interests of the issuer, the delay of disclosure is not likely to mislead the public and issuer can ensure that the said information would stay confidential. The Company must file a written notification on the delay to Finnish Financial Supervisory Authority immediately after the disclosure of the information.
Since the entry into force of MAR, the Company no longer has an obligation to keep an up-to-date list of the ownership of the current public insiders. For the time being, the Company has determined not to establish and maintain a list of permanent insiders but all persons involved in insider projects will be included in the project-specific insider lists instead. In the future, the establishment of a list of permanent insiders of the Company would need to be determined by the Board of Directors.
The persons discharging managerial responsibilities in the Company and persons closely associated with them shall notify their transactions in Company’s financial instruments to the Company in accordance with the insider policy in two (2) business days from the transaction and to the Finnish Financial Supervisory Authority in three (3) business days from the transaction. The Company must notify the transactions with a company release in three (3) business days from the transaction. In addition, the persons discharging managerial responsibilities in the Company must notify in writing the persons closely associated with them on the emergence of the duty of notification.
According to MAR, the closed period, during which transactions in the Company’s financial instruments are prohibited, is 30 calendar days before the announcement of financial report and the year-end report of the issuer and applies to the persons discharging managerial responsibilities. The Company applies the closed period after the end of each calendar quarter until the day after the announcement of the Company’s financial report or year-end report (the “Closed Window”). The Closed Window shall, however, always include at least 30 calendar days immediately preceding the announcement of the financial report or the year-end report, as the case may be, and the day of publication of such report. In certain special cases the issuer may on a case-by-case basis allow transactions during the Closed Window.
The main function of the statutory auditing is to verify that the financial statements provide true, accurate and sufficient information on the Company’s performance and financial position for the financial year. The Company’s financial year is calendar year.
The auditor´s responsibility is to audit the correctness of the Company’s accounting in the respective financial year and to provide an auditors’ report to the General Meeting. In addition, Finnish law requires that the auditor also monitors the lawfulness of the Company’s administration. The auditor reports to the Board of Directors at least once a year and quarterly to the Audit Committee. The fees received by the auditor shall be reported to the shareholders of the Company.
According to the Articles of Association, the auditor of the Company shall be an Authorized Public Accountants firm approved by the Patent and Registration Office. The Annual General Meeting elects the auditor and the term of an auditor terminates at the end of the Annual General Meeting following the election. The proposal for the auditor by the Board of Directors shall be included in the notice of the General Meeting. The auditor’s fees for 2018 were approximately EUR 113 thousand and fees paid to the auditor for non-audit services in 2018 were approximately EUR 23 thousand.
PricewaterhouseCoopers Oy, a firm of Authorised Public Accountants, was elected as auditor of the Company on March 21, 2018 with Ylva Eriksson, Authorised Public Accountant, being the auditor-in-charge.
The Company is not aware of any shareholders’ agreements regarding the shares of the Company.