The German Supervisory Board on Its Way to Professionalism
With regard to the change from the management to the supervisory board, under the amended Section 100(2), management board members may not become members of the supervisory board of a listed company within two years after the end of their appointment, unless they are appointed upon a motion presented by a minority whose aggregate holding equals or exceeds 25% of the share capital. The latter exemption aims at family‐ owned businesses and major shareholders that serve as management board members. They should have the continuing ability to administrate their economic interests, regardless of serving as management or supervisory board members.104 According to a prominent official responsible for the new legislation in the German Ministry of Justice, the provision is not aimed at prohibiting the change from the management board to the supervisory board in general. Nevertheless, the both management board and the supervisory board shall ask themselves whether such a change might bear any conflict of interests. 105
Still, the establishment of a cooling off period regarding the change from the management board to the supervisory board is not convincing. Allowedly, those changes may create a conflict of interests. On the other hand, however, a rigid fixed period of time cannot guarantee that any proximity of new supervisory board members to their former colleagues in the management board will be eliminated and cannot be restored afterwards. Conversely, within those two years, the former board member’s knowledge about the firm and its particularities as well as management skills may fade and become obsolete. Overall, a cooling off period is inappropriate with regard to issues of independence of former management board members now serving in the supervisory board.106 The future will show whether shareholders are able to make use of the exception
Dauner‐Lieb & Peter W. Tettinger, Vorstandshaftung, D&O‐Versicherung, Selbstbehalt, 30 ZIP 1555‐1557 (2009); Robert Koch, Einführung eines obligatorischen Selbstbehalts in der D&O‐Versicherung durch das VorstAG, 54 AG 637‐647 (2009); Björn Fiedler, Der Pflichtselbstbehalt nach § 93 Abs. 2 Satz 3 AktG und seine Auswirkungen auf Vorstandshaftung und D&O Versicherung, 63 MONATSSCHRIFT FÜR DEUTSCHES RECHT (MDR) 2009, 1077‐1082 (2009); Einiko Franz, Der gesetzliche Selbstbehalt in der D&O‐Versicherung nach dem VorstAG – Wie weit geht das Einschussloch in der Schutzweste der Manager?, 62 DB 2764‐2773 (2009). Regarding the affiliated change of Section 3.8 GCGC, see, Andreas Hecker, Die aktuellen Änderungen des Deutschen Corporate Governance Kodex im Überblick, 64 BB 1654, 1655‐1656 (2009); Thomas Strieder, Erläuterungen der Änderungen des Deutschen Corporate Governance Kodex des Jahres 2009, 11 FINANZBETRIEB (FB) 515‐516 (2009).
See, Seibert (note 100), 1492.
Seibert (note 100), 1492.
106 See, LIEDER (note 2), 719; see also, now, Martin Peltzer, Trial and Error – Anmerkungen zu den Bemühungen des Gesetzgebers, die Arbeit des Aufsichtsrates zu verbessern, 12 NZG 1041, 1043 (2009); Daniela Weber‐Rey, Änderungen des Deutschen Corporate Governance Kodex 2009, 63 WM 2255, 2263 (2009); Patrick Velte, Die Cooling Off‐Periode, 6 AR 160, 161 (2009); for a different view and a proposal to extend the cooling‐off period to 5 years, see, Thomas M.J. Möllers & Dominique Christ, Selbstprüfungsverbot und die zweijährige Cooling‐off‐ Periode beim Wechsel eines Vorstandsmitglieds in den Aufsichtsrat nach dem VorstAG, 30 ZIP 2278‐2281 (2009). ‐ Furthermore, empirical studies show that changes from the management board to the supervisory board do not