Changes of control and defence measures
Unvested deferred compensation may vest and employee participation plan rules may be amended upon a change of control of SoftwareOne, that is, if a new external shareholder acquires a major stake in SoftwareOne.
In accordance with Swiss law, the mandates and employment contracts of the members of the BoD and of the EB do not contain any provisions such as severance payments, notice periods of more than 12 months or additional pension fund contributions that would benefit them in a change of control situation.
The BoD or, to the extent it is delegated, the NCC, shall determine granting, vesting, exercising and/or forfeiting conditions. They may provide for a continuation, acceleration, or removal of vesting and/or exercising conditions, for payment or granting of compensation based upon assumed target achievement, or for forfeiture, in each case in the event of pre-determined events, such as a change of control or termination of an employment or mandate agreement. The company may source the required shares from treasury shares, purchases on the market or by using authorised or conditional share capital.
a. Mandate external audit
The AC supports the BoD in the nomination of the external auditors to be proposed to the Annual General Meeting for election or reelection. It assesses annually the external auditor’s qualifications, effectiveness, past performance, and independence, especially related to any further consulting mandates. In connection with the appointment of the external auditor, the AC further approves the audit programme, the annual fees and annually reviews the fee budget and actual audit fees incurred.
b. External auditor
Since its incorporation in 2013, SoftwareOne’s statutory external auditors have been Ernst & Young AG (CHE- 491.907.686) (‘EY’), Maagplatz 1, 8005 Zurich, Switzerland. The current auditor in charge is Mr Kaspar Streiff, who has been the lead auditor since 2016, and who will be replaced at this Annual General Meeting, in line with the Swiss Code of Obligations. To foster external auditor independence, the lead auditor must be replaced every seven years.
The external auditor is elected (or re-elected, as the case may be) at each Annual General Meeting of shareholders for a term of office until the completion of the following Annual General Meeting.
c. Auditing fees and additional fees
Additional fees (total)
– Tax 1)
1) Income tax compliance and transfer pricing.
d. Information instruments pertaining to the external audit
Responsibilities of the external auditor
The external auditor is independent and accountable to the AC, the BoD and, ultimately, to the shareholders.
Cooperation and flow of information between the auditor and the Audit Committee
The AC liaises closely with the external auditor. In general, the lead auditor participates in the AC meetings as an advisor. In 2022, the external auditors participated in all four meetings of the AC (all conducted via video conference). The external auditor provides the AC with regular updates on the audit work, open audit issues and the processing thereof, all audit-related issues as well as with reports on topics requested by the AC. The external auditor has a direct reporting line to the AC and may escalate potential audit issues directly to the Chairperson of the AC. At least once a year, the AC meets the external auditor without the presence of management.
The AC, together with the BoD, reviews and approves in advance the planned audit services as well as a cap on additional non-audit services provided by the external auditor. It discusses the results of annual audits with the external auditor, including reports on the financial statements, necessary changes to the audit plans and critical accounting issues. It also establishes guidelines for the internal and external audit with the goal of an optimal complementarity of all audit work as important pillars of the various lines of defence.
The external auditor shares with the AC its findings on the adequacy of the financial reporting process and the efficacy of the internal controls. It informs the AC about any differences of opinion between the external auditor and management encountered during the audits, or in connection with the preparation of the financial statements, findings regarding a potential malfunctioning of internal controls or differing views between the external and the internal auditor.
Evaluation of the external auditor
The AC is responsible for recommending an audit firm to the BoD for election at the Annual General Meeting of shareholders. In Switzerland, there is no general legal requirement providing for a periodic mandatory rotation of the external auditor company, but the lead audit person must change every seven years. In order to be able to recommend an audit firm for election by the shareholders and in line with good corporate governance, the AC thoroughly evaluates the credentials of the current external auditor annually and presents its findings to the BoD. EY has a proven record of professionalism and efficiency and fully meets the high standards of SoftwareOne.
Furthermore, the AC annually evaluates the performance of the external auditor.
At least once a year, the AC discusses with the external auditor any material issues, inquiries or investigations raised by governmental or professional authorities and steps taken to deal with any such issues.
At least once per year, the external auditor provides a formal written statement detailing all relationships with the company that might affect its independence. Any disclosed relationships or services that might interfere with the external auditor’s objectivity and independence are reviewed by the AC, which then recommends appropriate action to be taken by the BoD.
This assessment measures the external auditor’s performance against several criteria, including understanding of SoftwareOne’s business; technical knowledge and expertise; comprehensiveness of the audit plans; quality of the working relationship with management and clarity of communication. It is compiled from input of key people involved in the financial reporting process and the observations of the AC members.