1. Implementation and reporting on corporate governance
The Group’s Corporate Governance is based on the Norwegian Code of Practice for Corporate Gover- nance (NUES), dated 30 October 2014, see also www. nues.no. The structure of this chapter reflects the recommendations and, for the sake of order, each topic in the recommendation has been included. Any differences are explained.
The company's basic corporate values, ethical code of conduct and guidelines for corporate social responsibility. The Group’s basic corporate values of being creative, open, responsible and honest are based on the Group’s vision to create the world’s leading and most profitable global supplier of sustainable and high quality seafood. The Group's core activities comprise a vertically integrated value chain for the production of salmon and trout; catching whitefish; the processing of seafood; purchasing, sales and marketing of seafood; the distribution of seafood; and product development.
Lerøy Seafood Group takes a very conscious approach to its responsibility regarding ethical conduct, society at large and the environment. Lerøy Seafood Group ASA has drawn up a set of ethical guidelines for Group employees, aiming to establish common principles and regulations which govern all employees within Lerøy Seafood Group ASA and its subsidiaries. The Group's ethical code of conduct reflects the values represented by the Group and provides guidance for employees as to the use of the correct principles for business conduct, impartiality, conflicts of interest, political activity, entertaining expenses, processing information and the duty of confidentiality, relationships with business partners, corruption, whistle-blowing, bribes etc. Each employee has individual responsibility for adhering to the ethical code of conduct. The Group has prepared an Ethics Test for employees which will help them make the right decisions whenever needed. The corporate management is responsible for ensuring compliance with the regulations.
Furthermore, Lerøy Seafood Group has a general rule that the Group, along with all business partners, must comply with legislation in the Group's respective locations, and with the company's own/Lerøy Seafood Group's quality systems and procedures. The Group has a principal rule that there must be compliance with the strictest requirements.
In the event of nonconformities, measures must be taken to improve the situation. The Group's goal is to contribute positively and constructively to improving human rights, labour rights and environmental protection, both within the Group, in relation to suppliers and subcontractors and in relation to trading partners.
Every year, the Group publishes an Environmental Report setting out the status of, and providing an overview of, all environmental aspects within the Group's value chain. The Group has stipulated target areas, key performance indicators and environmental goals. A short summary of the main content of the Environmental Report can be found under the chapter entitled "Environmental Report". The Environmental Report is published in its entirety on www.leroyseafood.com.
According to Lerøy Seafood Group's Articles of Association, the company's purpose is as follows: «The Company’s objectives are the acquisition and management of shares and activities related thereto». The parent company’s Articles of Association exclusively reflect that the parent company is a holding company established for the purpose of owning other companies. The Group’s goals and main strategies are presented in total in the annual report, but can be summarised as follows: «The Group's core business is the production of salmon and trout, catches of whitefish, processing, product development, marketing, sale and distribution of seafood.»
3. Equity and dividends
Technical information. LSG’s annual general meeting on 23 May 2017 decided to carry out a 1:10 share split by converting 59,577,368 shares each with a nominal value of NOK 1 to 595,773,680 shares each with a nominal value of NOK 0.1.
The number of shareholders as of 31 December 2017 was 5,297, of whom 611 were foreign shareholders. The company’s register of shareholders, see section 4-4 of the Public Limited Companies Act (Norway), was registered first with the Norwegian Central Securities Depository (Verdipapirsentralen – VPS) on 28 November 1997 and carries the VPS registration number ISIN NO-0003096208. DnB ASA, Oslo, is the account manager. The Ticker code for the Group's shares on the Oslo Stock Exchange’s main list is LSG. The company’s organisation number in the Register of Business Enterprises is 975 350 940.
Equity. The Group is financially sound with book equity of NOK 14,482,122 million as of 31 December 2017, which corresponds to an equity ratio of 56.4%. At the end of 2017, the company had 595,773,680 shares outstanding. All shares carry the same rights in the company. As of 31 December 2017, the company owned 29,776 treasury shares.
Financial goals. On-going structural changes in the global industry in which the company operates, seen in conjunction with the cyclical nature of the industry, demand that the company must maintain a satisfactory financial contingency at all times. This in turn requires a close relationship with the company’s shareholders and equity markets. The company has always stressed the importance of maintaining the confidence of its financial partners and thus also access to necessary loan capital on favourable terms. The financial goals established by the Board and management must be reflected in specified requirements for financial adequacy and yield. The established requirement for financial adequacy stipulates that the Group’s equity ratio should be at least 30% over time. The Group’s long- term goal for earnings is to generate an annual return on the Group’s average capital employed of 18% before tax.
Dividends. Lerøy Seafood Group aims to achieve satisfactory profitability in all its activities. The yield to shareholders in the form of dividends and share price performance shall reflect the company’s value creation. Distributed dividends should develop in line with the company’s financial strength, growth and profit performance.
The company’s dividend policy implies that, over time, dividends should lie in the region of 30% to 40% of profit after tax. However, care must be taken at all times to ensure that the Group has satisfactory financial contingency for new and profitable investments. In the long run, financial value creation will increasingly be in the form of higher share prices rather than in declared dividends.
The Board of Directors has proposed a dividend payment for 2017 of NOK 1.50 per share, which is NOK 0.20 higher per share than the dividend payment in 2016. The proposal complies with the company’s specified dividend policy.
Mandates granted to the Board of Directors. Mandates are granted to the Board of Directors in accordance with the Public Limited Companies Act (Norway), see in particular chapters 9 and 10 of the Act.
Mandate for the Board to purchase treasury shares. The Board was authorised for the first time to purchase treasury shares by the annual general meeting on 12 May 2000. This mandate was last exercised in 2011 with the acquisition of 100,000 treasury shares. The mandate was last renewed at the annual general meeting on 23 May 2017 and it authorises the acquisition of up to 50,000,000 shares over a period of 18 months from the date on which the resolution was adopted. Renewal of the mandate will be recommended to the annual general meeting on 23 May 2018.
Mandate to increase share capital by issuing shares for private placings with external investors, employees and individual shareholders in Lerøy Seafood Group ASA. The Board has a mandate to increase the share capital by up to NOK 5,000,000 by issuing up to 50,000,000 shares in Lerøy Seafood Group ASA, each with a face value of NOK 0.10, through one or more private placings with the company’s shareholders and/or external investors. This type of mandate was first established by the annual general meeting of 4 May 1999 and last renewed by the annual general meeting on 23 May 2017. The Board of Directors exercised this mandate on 2 June 2016 and carried out a private placement of 5,000,000 new shares at a face value of NOK 1.00 in addition to the sale of 300,000 treasury shares. The Board of Directors feels it is appropriate to retain this mandate, including authorisation for the Board to deviate from the preference rights of the shareholders, and a proposal will be made to the annual general meeting on 23 May 2018 to establish a new and equivalent mandate.
The Board’s mandates are valid for a period exceeding one year and are not limited to specifically defined objectives as recommended by the NUES. This is principally for operational reasons, but also in order to clearly show that the company is growth-oriented and that shares are regarded as potential means of payment. This practice is established to ensure an optimum strategic business development for the company. However, the company has established the practice of having the mandates renewed annually at each annual general meeting.
4. Equal treatment of shareholders and transactions with related parties
The company has only one class of shares and each share carries one vote at the annual general meeting. Shareholders’ rights are governed by the Public Limited Companies Act (Norway), see in particular chapter 4 of the Act. Lerøy Seafood Group's Articles of Association and agreements are all worded to ensure equal treatment of shareholders.
Equal treatment of shareholders and transactions with close associates. Lerøy Seafood Group ASA has a strict policy of providing correct and open information to shareholders, potential shareholders and other stakeholders.
Not immaterial transactions between the company and shareholders, a shareholder’s parent company, members of the Board of Directors, executive personnel or close associates of any such parties. Should such transactions occur, they are documented and executed according to the arm's length principle. The company has prepared guidelines to ensure notification by board members and executive personnel to the Board of Directors of any significant interest in an agreement signed by the company. If enterprises with associations to board members perform work for Lerøy Seafood Group ASA’s Board of Directors, the question of independence is treated specifically by the Board.
5. Freely negotiable shares
According to the company's Articles of Association, there are no restrictions on the negotiability of Lerøy Seafood Group's shares.
6. General meetings
Notice of and holding annual general meetings. Lerøy Seafood Group ASA held its annual general meeting in the company's head office at Bontelabo, Bergen on 23 May 2017. The notice of the meeting with a proposed agenda, attendance slip and proxy form were distributed to all shareholders with a registered address three weeks prior to the date Investor relations Lerøy Seafood Group Annual report 2017 Corporate governance of the general meeting. The notice of the general meeting was formatted in accordance with the requirements of the Public Companies Act in Norway and the regulation relating to general meetings which governs the content and availability of supporting information. Pursuant to the company's Articles of Association, all documents to be discussed at the general meeting were made available on the company's website: www. leroyseafood.com.
This information was published on the website 21 days prior to the date of the general meeting.
The supporting information was sufficiently detailed and comprehensive to allow the shareholders to form a view on all matters to be considered at the meeting. The deadline for registration of participation was set for the day prior to the general meeting. Prior to distribution of the notice of the general meeting, the Board of Directors and meeting chairperson had performed a quality control of the procedures for registration and voting, and of the proxy form for participation and voting on behalf of other shareholders.
The Chairman of the Board represented the Board of Directors at the general meeting. In addition, the CEO and other members of the corporate management were present. By agreement with the Chairperson of the Nomination Committee, the Chairman of the Board presented the committee's recommendation.
Independent chairing of the general meeting is ensured by the general meeting appointing a chairperson for the meeting and one person to co-sign the minutes of the meeting.
The notice and holding of the annual general meeting in 2017 complied with the practice established by Lerøy Seafood Group ASA in recent years.
Participation by proxy. The Public Companies Act in Norway and the regulation relating to general meetings allows for several methods whereby shareholders can participate in and vote at the general meeting, without actually being present. In the notice of the general meeting, Lerøy Seafood Group has allowed shareholders to vote by proxy. The proxy was designed so as to permit votes to be cast for each individual item discussed, and for candidates up for election. The company has procedures which ensure full control and overview of participation and voting at general meetings.
The company publishes the signed set of minutes immediately after the general meeting has been closed.No extraordinary general meetings were held in 2017.
At general meetings, the Board of Directors is normally represented by the Chairman of the Board, who also represents the majority shareholder in LSG. Due to the very limited capacity for other shareholders to physically participate at general meetings, it has not been deemed necessary for all board members to take part in the general meeting.
7. Nomination Committee
The Nomination Committee consists of three members elected by the general meeting for a period of two years. The company’s nomination committee is charged with preparing proposals for the composition of a shareholder-elected board of directors and to submit recommendations to the shareholders’ meeting for appointments to the board. At present, the members of the Nomination Committee are Helge Møgster (Chairman), Benedicte Schilbred Fasmer and Aksel Linchausen. The company has not established specific guidelines for the Nomination Committee. However, the composition of the Nomination Committee is such that the interests of the shareholders in general are taken into account in that the majority within the committee is independent of the Board and other executive personnel, and that the company’s Articles of Association also specify the framework for the work of the Committee.
The Nomination Committee makes a recommendation regarding remuneration to the members of the board. The general meeting makes the final decision regarding fees to be paid to the members of the company's board and Nomination Committee.
Information on the members of the Nomination Committee is published at www.leroyseafood.com. The Nomination Committee will be facilitated contact with the shareholders, the board members and the CEO when working on the recommendation of candidates. In addition, shareholders are permitted to recommend candidates to the Committee.
The recommendation of the Nomination Committee is included in the supporting documentation for the general meeting, which is published within the 21-day deadline for notice of the general meeting.
8. Corporate assembly and board of directors; composition and independence
Corporate assembly. Lerøy Seafood Group ASA does not have a corporate assembly.
Composition and independence of the Board of Directors. In its central position between owners and management, it is the Board of Directors’ function to safeguard the shareholders’ need for strategic governance and operational control. The function and focus of the Board will always vary somewhat depending on circumstances within the company and on developments in external framework conditions.
The transformation of the Lerøy Group from a family company to a listed public limited company has been guided by the owners’ clear awareness of the type of Board the company needs. Since the early 1990s, the majority of the board members have been independent of the Group’s management team in order to protect the Board’s ability to challenge management practices. In part because of the Board’s composition (size and independence from management and main owners, etc.), it has to date been deemed unnecessary to establish so-called board committees, with the exception of the statutory requirement for an audit committee. Pursuant to the Norwegian Public Companies Act, the Chief Executive Officer is not permitted to be a board member. The Norwegian Code of Practice is also very clear in its recommendation that neither the CEO nor other executive personnel in the company should be board members. In Lerøy Seafood Group ASA, neither the CEO nor other executive personnel are members of the Board of Directors.
Nomination period and term of office. Both the Chairman of the Board and other board members are elected for a period of two years at a time. The Nomination Committee submits its recommendation to the general meeting, which appoints the Chairman of the Board and other board members.
Information on the members of the board. The Chairman of the Board, Helge Singelstad (1963), was appointed to the Board by the extraordinary general meeting on 26 November 2009. Helge Singelstad holds a degree in computer engineering, a degree in Business Administration from the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) and took a foundation course in law at the University of Bergen. Helge Singelstad has previously held positions as CEO, Vice CEO and CFO of Lerøy Seafood Group. Consequently, he has broad knowledge of the Group and the industry. Helge Singelstad is Chairman of the Board of Austevoll Seafood ASA and Vice Chairman of the Board of DOF ASA. He is the Managing Director of Laco AS. Laco AS is a majority shareholder of Austevoll Seafood ASA. Helge Singelstad owns no shares or options in Lerøy Seafood Group ASA as of 31 December 2017, but as a shareholder in Austevoll Seafood ASA he indirectly owns shares in the Group.
Board member Arne Møgster (1975) was appointed to the Board by the annual general meeting on 26 May 2009. Arne Møgster holds a Bachelor degree in Business Administration and an MSc in International Shipping. Arne Møgster is the CEO of Austevoll Seafood ASA and board member in a number of companies. As a shareholder in Laco AS, Arne Møgster indirectly owns shares in Lerøy Seafood Group ASA.
Board member Britt Kathrine Drivenes (1963) was Investor relations Corporate governance appointed to the Board by the annual general meeting on 20 May 2008. Britt Kathrine Drivenes holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from the Norwegian School of Management (BI) and a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management from the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH). She is the CFO of Austevoll Seafood ASA and is also a board member in a number of companies. She indirectly owns shares in Lerøy Seafood Group ASA as a shareholder in Austevoll Seafood ASA.
Board member Hege Charlotte Bakken (1973) was appointed to the Board by the extraordinary general meeting on 12 December 2008. Hege Charlotte Bakken holds an MSc degree from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and an Executive MBA from ESCP EAP European School of Management in Paris. She is a Senior Advisor at Hemingway Corporate Finance, Amsterdam and Senior Advisor within strategy and management with Stella Polaris. She has previously held the positions of Chief Operating Officer of Marvesa Holding NV and Managing Director of Marvesa Rotterdam N.V. She also has experience from companies such as Pronova BioPharma Norge AS, FishMarket International AS, FrioNor AS and Norway Seafoods ASA. Hege Charlotte Bakken has also served as a member of the boards of Pronova Biopharma Norge AS and Pronova BioPharma ASA. She owns no shares in the company as of 31 -December 2017.
Board member Didrik Munch (1956) was appointed to the Board by the annual general meeting on 23 May 2012. Didrik Munch has a degree in law from the University of Bergen and qualified as a police officer at the Norwegian Police University College in Oslo. He has worked in a number of positions within the Norwegian police force (1977–1986). From 1986 to 1997, he worked in finance, primarily in the DnB system. Towards the end of this period, he was part of DnB's corporate management, as Director for the Corporate Customer division. From 1997 to 2008, Didrik Munch was CEO of Bergens Tidende AS (a Norwegian newspaper). In 2008, he took on the role of CEO for Media Norge AS (the company changed its name to Schibsted Norge AS in April 2012) and held this position until 28 February 2018. Today, Didrik Munch is self-employed and has positions on several boards, including Chairman of the Board for Storebrand ASA, board member for Grieg Star Group AS and board member for Schibsted Media AS. Throughout his career, he has held numerous positions as both Chairman of the Board and board member for different companies. He owns no shares in the company as of 31 December 2017.
Karoline Møgster (1980) was appointed to the Board by the annual general meeting on 23 May 2017. Karoline Møgster has a law degree from the University of Bergen (Candidata juris). She also has a Masters’ degree in accounting and auditing (MRR) from the Norwegian School of Economics. She has worked as a lawyer with Advokatfirmaet Thommessen AS and is now employed as a lawyer for the Møgster Group. She is a board member for Laco AS and has experience of board work from DOF ASA and other companies in the DOF Group. Karoline Møgster indirectly owns shares in Lerøy Seafood Group ASA as a shareholder of Laco AS.
Board Member Hans Petter Vestre (1966) was appointed to the Board as the employees’ representative at the annual general meeting on 24 April 1995. Hans Petter Vestre is a graduate of the Norwegian College of Fishery, University of Tromsø. He was employed by Hallvard Lerøy AS as a sales manager in 1992 and is today departmental head in Lerøy Seafood AS. Hans Petter Vestre owned 120 shares in the company as of 31 December 2017.
The Group structure, with autonomous entities in different regions, is supervised through participation by Group management in the administrative bodies of the various companies. The employees also contribute to sound operational development through their representation on the boards of the subsidiaries. The Board has not elected a Vice Chairman and so far the Chairman of the Board has always been present. In case of his absence, the Board will make satisfactory arrangements for chairing the meeting.
Encouraging the board members to own shares in the company. The majority of board members Investor relations Corporate governance in Lerøy Seafood Group ASA own shares in the company, either directly or indirectly.
9. The work of the board of directors
The tasks assigned to the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors shall establish an annual plan for its work, with a focus on goals, strategy and execution, in order to ensure continuous follow-up and further development of the company. For several years, as well as in its eight meetings in 2017, the Board has maintained a particular focus on the connection between practical operations and strategic business development. The Board works purposefully together with the company management to make the Group the most profitable, fully integrated global seafood company. This work has for a considerable time been carried out in accordance with our public announcements. The Board’s work reflects this strategy and the results are shown through management implementation. Although the strategic development of the company is a continuous process and part of the work of the Board of Directors, the company also holds dedicated strategy meetings. Strategy meetings were held in 2017.
Instructions for the Board of Directors and management. A set of instructions has been prepared for the work of the Board of Directors. The scope of the work of the CEO is laid down in a separate set of instructions and in close dialogue with the company’s Chairman of the Board.
Independent consideration of business of a significant nature, where the Chairman of the Board plays an active role. The Chairman of the Board is not involved in cases where he/she has a personal interest. Such business is dealt with by one of the other board members. There has been no business of this nature during the year.
Board committees. Audit committee. Pursuant to section 6-41 (1) of the Norwegian Public Companies Act, companies listed on the Stock Exchange are obliged to establish an audit committee which prepares business for and submits recommendations to the Board of Directors. Lerøy Seafood Group ASA's audit committee consists of Didrik Munch (Chairman) and Britt Kathrine Drivenes. The audit committee reports to the Chairman of the Board. The audit committee conducts quality assurance of internal control and reporting. It is also responsible for the Board of Directors' dialogue with and monitoring of the external auditor. The auditor reports on his work in writing to the company administration and the Board through the audit committee. The company does not have a so-called remuneration committee.
Assessment of the Board’s work. When recruiting board members, the company’s owners follow a long-standing strategy of assessing the company’s need for varied competency, continuity, renewal and changes in ownership structure. It will always be in the company’s interest to ensure that the composition of the Board varies in line with the demands and expectations made on the Group. The Board’s assessment of its own performance and of Group management must of necessity be seen in conjunction with the Group’s performance. To date, the Board has not issued reports on its assessment of its own work; this is a conscious priority decision and must be viewed in connection with other announcements in the company’s communications to the public. Moreover, external assessments of the Board’s work are probably the most influential and are likely to remain so in the future.
10. Risk management and internal control
Risk management and internal control. The Group’s activities are varied, depending on each entity’s position in the value chain, and consequently require differentiated forms of management and follow-up. Good internal management systems are essential for success, and these must be continuously developed in order to accommodate fluctuating conditions. The Group’s regional structure with independent entities, also in respect of short-term reporting, facilitates good control and a powerful focus. Internal control is based on daily and weekly reports that are summarised into monthly reports tailored to the individual company, and at Group level. There is an emphasis on developing uniform reporting procedures and formats in order to ensure correct reporting from all entities and up to an aggregate level.
As Lerøy Seafood Group is an international seafood corporation with decentralised operations and a significant volume of biological production, the company is exposed to a number of risk factors. The Board of Directors therefore works hard to ensure that the Group implements all measures required to control risk, to limit individual risk and to keep risk as a whole within acceptable constraints.
Operating risk. Fish farming takes place in relatively open seas which provide the best conditions for fish farming in terms of the environment and health of the fish. However, this places significant demands on both personnel and equipment. The production plants are continuously subjected to the forces of nature, representing a certain risk of damage to equipment which, in turn, may result in accidental release of fish. The company reported three incidents involving the accidental release of fish in 2017, cf. the more detailed description in the Group's Environmental Report. Keeping animals in intensive cultures will always entail a certain risk of illness. Fish are particularly vulnerable to illness when they start life at sea, as they are exposed to stress during this period and have to adapt to a completely new environment. The risk of illness can be reduced by ensuring high quality smolt, vaccinations, good conditions and the correct locations for the fish. The Group also has a focus on sustainable feed.
For more comments on biological production, please refer to the Group's Environmental Report.
Market risk. The Group's result is strongly reliant on the developments in global salmon and trout prices and now increasingly on whitefish prices, in particular cod. The Group seeks to reduce this risk factor by ensuring that a certain proportion of sales are so-called contract sales.
In addition, Norwegian fish farming and the fish processing industry in Norway and the EU have a history of exposure to the risk represented by the constant threat of long-term political trade barriers imposed by the EU Commission. In 2008, the EU Commission abolished the programme which involved so-called minimum prices for Norwegian salmon and punitive duties on Norwegian trout. In 2011, punitive duties on whole salmon exported to the USA were also lifted. Russia introduced a ban on imports of salmon and trout from Norway on 7 August 2014. As Russia is normally a major market for Norwegian salmon and trout, the import ban had a negative impact on realised prices for trout also in 2017.
Currency risk. The Group has international operations and is thus exposed to currency risk. The Group makes use of currency derivatives combined with withdrawals/deposits in multi-currency accounts in order to minimise currency risk on outstanding trade receivables, signed sales contracts and ongoing contractual negotiations. The Group’s long-term liabilities are mainly in Norwegian kroner.
Credit risk. Pursuant to the Group’s strategy for managing credit risk, the Group’s trade receivables are mainly covered by credit insurance or other forms of security. All new customers are subjected to a credit rating.
Interest rate risk. The majority of the Group’s long-term debt is at floating rates of interest, representing exposure to increases in the market interest rate. Interest rate swap agreements are signed to reduce interest rate risk.
Liquidity risk. The most significant individual factor related to liquidity risk is fluctuation in salmon prices and now, to an increasing degree, prices for whitefish and in particular cod. Liquidity is also affected by fluctuations in production and slaughter volumes and changes in feed prices, which is the most prominent single factor on the cost side. Feed costs are impacted by the developments in prices for marine raw materials and agricultural products.
Review by the Board of Directors. A significant share Investor relations Corporate governance of the work of the Board of Directors involves ensuring that the company management is familiar with and understands the Group's risk areas and that risk is managed by means of appropriate internal control. Frequent evaluations and assessments are conducted of both the management's and Board's understanding of risk and internal control. The audit committee plays an important role in these evaluations and assessments.
Description of the main elements of risk management and internal control related to financial reports. Internal control within the Group is based on the recommendation from the "Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commissions" (COSO), and covers control environment, risk assessment, control activities, information and communication, and monitoring. The content of these different elements is described in detail below.
Control environment. The core of an enterprise is the employees' individual qualities, ethical values and competence, in addition to the environment in which they work.
Guidelines for financial reporting. On behalf of the CFO, the Chief Accountant for the Group provides guidelines to entities within the Group. These guidelines place requirements on both the content of and process for financial reporting.
Organisation and responsibility. The Chief Accountant for the Group reports to the CFO and is responsible for areas such as financial reporting, budgets and internal control of financial reporting within the Group.
The Directors of the reporting entities are responsible for continuous financial monitoring and reporting. The entities all have management groups and financial functions which are adapted to their organisation and business. The entity managers shall ensure implementation of appropriate and efficient internal control and are responsible for compliance with requirements.
The audit committee shall monitor the process of financial reporting and ensure that the Group's internal control and risk management systems function efficiently. The audit committee shall also ensure that the Group has an independent and effectivet external auditor.
The financial statements for all companies in the Group are audited by an external auditor, within the framework established in international standards for auditing and quality control.
Risk assessment. The Chief Accountant for the Group and the CFO identify, assess and monitor the risk of errors in the Group's financial reports, together with the managers of each entity.
Control activities. Reporting entities are responsible for the implementation of adequate control actions in order to prevent errors in the financial reports. Processes and control measures have been established to ensure quality assurance of financial reports. These measures comprise mandates, division of work, reconciliation/documentation, IT controls, analyses, management reviews and Board representation within subsidiaries.
The Chief Accountant for the Group provides guidelines for financial reporting to the different Group entities. The Chief Accountant for the Group ensures that reporting takes place in accordance with prevailing legislation, accounting standards, established accounting principles and the Board's guidelines.
The Chief Accountant and the CFO continuously assess the Group's and the entities' financial reports. Analyses are carried out in relation to previous periods, between different entities and in relation to other companies within the same industry.
Review by the Group management. The Group management reviews the financial reports on a monthly basis, including the development in figures for profit/loss and balance sheet.
Reviews by the audit committee, Board and general meeting. The audit committee and Board review the Group's financial reports on a quarterly basis. During such reviews, the audit committee has discussions with the management and external auditor. At least once a year, the Board holds a meeting with the external auditor, without the presence of the administration.
The Board reviews the interim accounts per quarter and the proposal for the financial statements. The financial statements are adopted by the annual general meeting.
Information and communication. The Group has a strict policy of providing correct and open information to shareholders, potential shareholders and other stakeholders. Item 13, "Information and communication" contains more detailed information.
Follow-up of reporting entities. Those persons responsible for entities which issue reports shall ensure appropriate and efficient internal control in accordance with requirements and are responsible for compliance with such requirements.
Group level. The Chief Accountant and CFO review the financial reports issued by the entities and the Group, and assess any errors, omissions and required improvements.
External auditor. The external auditor shall provide the audit committee with a description of the main elements of the audit from the previous financial year, in particular significant weak points identified during internal control related to the process of financial reporting.
The Board of Directors. The Board, represented by the audit committee, monitors the process of financial reporting.
11. Remuneration of the board of directors
Board remuneration is not performance based. The Board members elected by the shareholders have no share options. If enterprises that board members are associated with perform work for the company’s Board, the question of independence is treated specifically by the Board.
Remuneration of the Chairman of the Board and other board members is recommended by the Nomination Committee and adopted by the annual general meeting. The annual general meeting on 23 May 2017 adopted remuneration of the Board of Directors as follows: Annual remuneration of the Chairman of the Board, NOK 375,000. Annual remuneration of the other board members, NOK 200,000. However, no remuneration is paid to the Chairman of the Board that represents a duty to report. Lerøy Seafood Group ASA is invoiced for the services of the Chairman, and for consultancy fees related to the role as working Chairman of the Board from the Group’s leading company, Laco AS, where the Chairman of the Board is an employee.
It is recommended that remuneration for any additional work carried out by members of the Board of Directors' sub-committees be paid separately in addition to the basic fees for board members of NOK 40,000 per year.
Annual remuneration of the members of the Nomination Committee totalled NOK 35,000 per member.
12. Remuneration of executive personnel
This item is referred to in the chapter regarding the Board of Directors’ Statement on Salaries and other Remuneration of Executive Personnel.
The annual general meeting will vote individually on the recommended and binding guidelines.
13. Information and communication
Lerøy Seafood Group ASA has a strict policy of providing correct and open information to shareholders, potential shareholders and other stakeholders. Timely, relevant, consistent and current information is the basis upon which all interested parties will assess the value of the company’s shares. The company’s most important medium for distributing information is the Oslo Stock Exchange reporting system, but the company will also hold presentations for investors and analysts. Lerøy Seafood Group keeps its share Investor relations Corporate governance holders informed via the Board of Directors’ report, quarterly reports and at appropriate presentations. In addition, press releases are sent out regarding important events on the company’s markets, or about other relevant circumstances.
Every year, Lerøy Seafood Group ASA publishes the company's financial calendar, showing the dates for presentation of the interim financial statements and the date of the annual general meeting. The date for payment of dividends is decided by the company's annual general meeting.
The company's website is continuously updated with information that is distributed to shareholders. The company’s website is at: www.leroyseafood.com. No specific guidelines have been compiled for the company’s contact with shareholders outside the general meeting. This is due to the fact that the current integrated practice within this area is deemed satisfactory.
Lerøy Seafood Group ASA has no restrictions in its Articles of Association regarding company take-overs. As of 3 June 2002, the shares in Lerøy Seafood Group ASA have been quoted on the main listing of the Oslo Stock Exchange and are freely negotiable within the provisions of Norwegian law. The company has only one class of shares and each share carries one vote at the general meeting.
If a take-over bid is made for the company, the Board of Directors will make a statement prior to the expiry of the bid. The Board of Director's statement will also include a recommendation as to whether or not the shareholders should accept the bid. The Board of Directors will emphasise equal treatment of the shareholders and no unnecessary disturbance of the company's operations.
Auditor - yearly plan. For a number of years, Lerøy Seafood Group ASA has engaged the services of PriceWaterhouseCoopers AS as Group auditor. The company's auditor follows an auditing plan which has been reviewed in advance together with the audit committee and management. The auditor and audit committee perform an annual audit of the company’s internal control, including identified weak points and recommended improvements. The Board is informed of the general nature of the services the administration buys from the auditor.
Treatment of the financial statements. The auditor holds meetings with the audit committee and management subsequent to the interim audit and in connection with the company's presentation of interim reports for the fourth quarter. The auditor attends board meetings where the financial statements are to be approved, and also holds a meeting on the subject of the annual report with the Board of Directors, at which the management does not attend. During these meetings, the auditor reviews any significant changes in the company’s accounting policies, evaluations of significant accounting estimates and all significant factors on which the auditor and management disagree. To date, there has been no such disagreement on any factors.
Auditor – other services. The auditor prepares a written confirmation of independence for the audit committee, with written disclosure to the audit committee of all other services provided in addition to mandatory auditing. The auditing company utilised is a large company and practices internal rotation, in compliance with the requirement for independence.
Moreover, the auditor is available for questions and comments concerning the financial statements and other matters at the Board’s discretion.
Remuneration of the auditor. Invoiced fees from the auditor are presented in a separate note to the financial statements. The company's annual general meeting is also notified of remuneration of the auditor. No specific guidelines have been established for the CEO’s mandate to make use of the auditor for services other than auditing. The Board of Directors is instead continuously informed of the main aspects of the services purchased by the administration from the auditor.