Remgro Limited (Remgro) is committed to the highest level of corporate governance, integrity and ethics. The Board of Directors of Remgro (the Board) is ultimately responsible for ensuring that corporate governance standards are set and met and is therein assisted by senior management, who aims to instil a culture of compliance and good governance in Remgro and its subsidiaries (Remgro Group).
The King IV Report on Corporate Governance for South Africa (King IV), which was published on 1 November 2016, contains a set of principles that are fundamental to good governance, as well as related leading recommended practices. The JSE Limited has incorporated certain of King IV’s recommended practices in the JSE Listings Requirements.
The Board welcomes the adoption of King IV. The Board is satisfied that Remgro has applied the principles contained in King IV during the year under review. This Corporate Governance Report explains in the form of a narrative account how Remgro has applied the principles enumerated in King IV with reference to the practices applied by Remgro. This report aims to provide Remgro’s stakeholders with a good understanding of Remgro’s governance structures and processes to enable them to evaluate the ability of Remgro to create and sustain value.
The Board endeavours to lead ethically and effectively in prioritising the following outcomes advocated by King IV: an ethical culture, good performance, effective control and legitimacy. This is underscored by sound and visible leadership which is characterised by the ethical values of integrity, competence, responsibility, accountability, fairness and transparency. Sound corporate governance structures and processes are being applied and are considered by the Board to be pivotal to delivering sustainable value in the interest of all stakeholders, along with sound business acumen.
The Board is responsible for setting the direction on ethical standards, strategy and operations of the Remgro Group by applying integrated stakeholder thought processes harnessed by appropriate diversity, to build a sustainable business, while considering the impact of the Remgro Group’s strategy on the economy, society and environment (collectively, the “triple context”).
As a responsible investor, the Board advocates adherence to sound ethics and governance by all entities Remgro is invested in by using its significant influence to ensure that all Remgro’s listed subsidiaries, joint ventures and associates endorse and apply the principles contained in King IV. Effective corporate governance forms part of Remgro’s investment assessment criteria which is further monitored on a continuous basis by non-executive board representation on its investee companies’ boards. To this end, Remgro’s corporate governance policies may be used as a benchmark, where appropriate.
Doing business ethically is one of Remgro’s key objectives, and is supported by the management of ethics as recorded in its Code of Ethics, which is strictly enforced. Effective leadership is to be exhibited in order to achieve Remgro’s strategic objectives and positive outcomes.
Each individual member on the Board is suitably qualified and has extensive relevant experience. The Board, as a whole, is evaluated annually by its members.
To ensure that the individual directors exercise their powers and perform their functions in good faith and for a proper purpose, in the best interest of Remgro and with care, skill and diligence, Board members are required to disclose any potential conflict of interest which is to be considered at board meetings, and are required to recuse themselves from relevant discussions when a conflict exists. Remgro has appointed an independent, nonexecutive director as the Lead Independent Director (LID) to act as chairman during meetings in situations where the Chairman of the Board has a conflict of interest. The LID is involved in the evaluation of the Chairman.
The Board believes that ethical behaviour stems from appropriate value systems inherent to the people in Remgro’s employ, as directed and supported by visual ethical leadership and a valuedriven corporate culture. Leadership, based on ethical foundations, results in a culture of ethical and moral behaviour and compliance.
The Board, as part of its ethical leadership commitment, amended and reviewed its Legal Compliance Policy in light of King IV, and confirmed that there is sufficient management capacity and controls in place to ensure that all relevant laws and salient industry practices are complied with.
The Board, however, retains the responsibility to establish and maintain a culture of integrity, competence, honesty, transparency, fairness, responsibility and accountability, to position Remgro as an investment partner of choice.
Remgro has adopted a Code of Ethics that provides a framework of ethical practices and business conduct that is applicable to all directors and employees, and addresses the key ethical risks of Remgro. The code is available to all employees on Remgro’s intranet and a copy thereof is provided to all new employees. The Code of Ethics as well as a formal Gifts Policy provide strict policies regarding gifts, invitations or favours received from suppliers or any other party. The offering of benefits to gain unfair advantages is strictly prohibited.
Remgro’s ethical standards are applied to the processes for the recruitment, evaluation of performance and reward of employees, as well as the sourcing of suppliers.
The Board provides for sanctions and remedies in instances where Remgro’s ethical standards are breached. The actual adherence to ethical standards by employees and other stakeholders cannot be regulated but stems from personal conviction. However, the Audit and Risk Committee monitors fraud risk and related processes and the Social and Ethics Committee monitors compliance with the Code of Ethics and addresses instances of non-compliance.
The Remgro Group has effective anti-bribery, corruption and fraud prevention and detection processes and ensures compliance and risk mitigation. No material investigations were concluded during the reporting period.
Remgro has implemented a whistleblowing process to enable employees and third parties to report any perceived or alleged irregular or unethical behaviour in a confidential and controlled environment. Reports are monitored and managed with regular feedback to the Audit and Risk Committee. A 24-hour anonymous Ethics Hotline is managed by an independent external service provider and can be accessed telephonically or via email. During the year under review no calls were received through the hotline which related to alleged governance breaches or ethical anomalies at Remgro. Where calls are to be received which relate to alleged irregularities at investee companies, such calls will be directed to the appropriate governance structures at the respective investee companies via the Remgro representatives serving on the boards of these companies.
An overview of the key areas of focus relating to organisational ethics during the reporting period and planned areas of future focus are disclosed in the Social and Ethics Committee report, read with the committee’s charter.
The Board is ultimately responsible for Remgro’s corporate citizenship. The Social and Ethics Committee assists the Board in ensuring that Remgro is and remains a good and responsible corporate citizen. The Board oversees and monitors, on an ongoing basis, how the consequences of Remgro’s strategies, activities and outputs affect its status as a responsible corporate citizen. This oversight and monitoring function is performed in relation to the triple context within which Remgro operates.
The Social and Ethics Committee is responsible for reviewing and recommending for approval the annual sustainability content included in Remgro’s Integrated Annual Report or published on Remgro’s website. The Social and Ethics Committee, per mandate, is also responsible for the monitoring of the effectiveness of the sustainable development practices of the Remgro Group as set out below, thereby assisting the Board in achieving one of its values of doing business ethically.
Remgro’s sustainability development practices include: ethics and compliance; corporate social investment (CSI); stakeholder relations; broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE); health and public safety; labour relations and working conditions; employment equity, training and skills development; management of the Remgro Group’s environmental impacts, human rights and prohibition against child labour. The Social and Ethics Committee’s oversight role includes the monitoring of any relevant legislation, other legal requirements or prevailing codes of best practice, specifically with regard to matters relating to social and economic development, good corporate citizenship, the environment, health and public safety, consumer relationships, as well as labour and employment.
During the year under review, Remgro reviewed and amended its Code of Ethics, Gifts Policy, Social Media Policy, HIV/AIDS Policy and Safety, Health and Environmental (SHE) Management Policy (SHE Management Policy), in light of the principles and recommended practices of King IV.
The Social and Ethics Committee further monitors Remgro’s participation and results achieved in external surveys in respect of any sustainability aspect pertaining to the Remgro Group. In this regard the Social and Ethics Committee notes the external recognition and achievements by the Remgro Group.
Remgro believes that honesty, correctness, courtesy, service, mutual support and trust incorporate the spirit in which it strives to be a good corporate citizen. Workplace, economic, social and environmental sustainability practices, have always been part of Remgro’s core values. The Sustainable Development Report provides a better understanding of Remgro’s efforts on the social and environmental front in order to achieve its key objectives of maximising value creation, while doing business ethically.
Corporate citizenship includes the commitment of a business to contribute to sustainable economic development, and endorses the principle that no business exists in isolation but forms an integral part of the environment in which it operates. In its relationship with the community, Remgro strives to be a value partner and, in this regard, its involvement in the community focuses on eradicating the effects of poverty and investing in young people from disadvantaged communities in the belief that such an investment will provide sound dividends far into the future.
Remgro’s CSI initiatives and donations programme covers a broad spectrum of society and can be summarised as follows: community development; cultural development; entrepreneurship, training and education; environment; healthcare and sport development.
Remgro aims to maintain a CSI spend of approximately 2.5% of its net free cash flow annually. In this regard, an official donations committee meets regularly to consider and approve grants to institutions in need. Donations to qualifying institutions are made on an annual basis for a specific period and, although such contributions cover a wide range, no donations are made to political parties or religious institutions. Remgro respects its employees’ choice to participate in these institutions, but does not exercise a choice itself.
The Board believes that BBBEE is a social, political and economic imperative and it supports and encourages Remgro’s subsidiaries’, associates’ and joint ventures’ initiatives in this regard. To the extent that Remgro’s subsidiaries, joint ventures and associates implement BBBEE, Remgro’s shareholders effectively participate in BBBEE initiatives and the associated costs and benefits thereof. Remgro measures its BBBEE status against the generic scorecard criteria set by the Department of Trade and Industry. In terms of the latest assessment of Remgro’s BBBEE status performed during September 2018, Remgro, including its subsidiaries, RCL Foods Limited (RCL Foods), Distell Group Holdings Limited (Distell) and Wispeco Holdings Proprietary Limited (Wispeco), obtained a score of 66.48, thereby obtaining a level 8 contributor status.
Further, the Board has transformed considerably, with five of the 10 non-executive directors (50%) being black persons, and six of all 13 directors (46%) being black persons. On Management Board level, two of the six members are black persons. Remgro monitors and contributes to its investees’ BBBEE performance through its board representation and participation and facilitation of corporate actions in these investee companies. Employment equity represents Remgro’s most significant transformation challenge. An annual labour plan is submitted to the Department of Labour, wherein Remgro’s transformation objectives are set out in detail. Although efforts are focused on improving black representation at Remgro’s management level, low staff turnover and limited organic growth remain limiting factors.
Remgro complies with the requirements of the Skills Development Act, No. 97 of 1998, in terms of which a fixed percentage of its payroll is paid as a training levy to the South African Revenue Service. An annual report concerning all the training which has taken place in Remgro is submitted to the Sector Education Training Authority.
As Remgro (excluding its subsidiaries RCL Foods, Distell and Wispeco) is not an operating company, it has a small procurement function and its procurement profile is characterised by a high professional service component as opposed to materials purchased. Remgro purchases more than half of its goods and services from BBBEE accredited vendors. The improvement of Remgro’s preferential procurement score remains a focus area for Remgro.
Remgro recognises that many of its investments are dependent on a healthy and functioning ecosystem and that this system is increasingly under pressure from a quantity and quality perspective. Hence, Remgro continuously analyses its impact on the environment, its response to changing environmental realities and the pursuit of new opportunities that might arise as a result of responsible environmental management.
In order to manage its impact on the environment, Remgro has implemented the SHE Management Policy, which is reviewed annually, and which applies to Remgro Management Services Proprietary Limited (RMS). The Board is ultimately responsible for the implementation of the SHE Management Policy, but delegates its responsibilities to the Risk, Opportunities, Technology and Information Governance (ROTIG) Committee (which is a subcommittee of the Audit and Risk Committee) and the Social and Ethics Committee, which committees are responsible to review and recommend the approval of environmental procedures implemented and maintained by RMS. With regard to RCL Foods, Wispeco and Distell, it is the responsibility of Remgro’s representatives on the boards of these companies to obtain assurance regarding the effectiveness and efficiency of their respective environmental management processes.
The Board also focuses on legal and regulatory compliance as it advocates adherence to sound governance principles by all entities Remgro is invested in by using its significant influence to ensure that all Remgro’s listed subsidiaries and associates endorse and apply the principles contained in King IV. The Board annually reviews the application status of King IV’s (previously King III’s) principles.
As recommended in King IV, the Board has adopted a tax policy that entrenches the Remgro Group’s focus in managing Remgro’s tax affairs to: (1) ensure full compliance with tax laws and regulations, in whichever jurisdiction Remgro has interests, (2) ensure that Remgro’s tax affairs are congruent with responsible corporate citizenship, and (3) take account of related reputational repercussions. Remgro acknowledges that it has a responsibility not only to its shareholders, but to a larger group of stakeholders that includes tax authorities. In discharging this onus, Remgro co-operates with tax authorities by: (1) adhering both to the letter and spirit of the prevailing tax laws and regulations, and (2) cultivating respectable relationships with tax authorities.
The Board also ensures that Remgro complies with and adheres to the Constitution of South Africa, the law, leading standards, and adherence to its own codes of conduct and policies.
Further details regarding Remgro’s sustainability practices, including an overview of the key areas of focus during the reporting period, highlights on sustainability and planned areas of future focus can be found in the Sustainable Development Report.
Remgro’s Board is ultimately accountable for the performance of Remgro, appreciating that strategy, risk, performance and sustainability are inseparable. The Board provides strategic direction by proposing, discussing and questioning, whilst evaluating and approving, plans and strategies based on the values and objectives of Remgro and stakeholder interests and expectations. The Board furthermore oversees the Remgro Group’s corporate actions via the Investment Committee, which is supported by an approved delegation of authority.
The Board’s formal Board Charter, defines key responsibilities of the Board, including inter alia directing the ethical standards, strategy and operations of the Remgro Group to build a sustainable business, while considering the impact of the Remgro Group’s strategy on the triple context.
The Board has delegated the formulation and development of Remgro’s strategy to the Management Board, and has approved the policies and operational plans developed by management to give effect to the approved strategy. The Management Board’s mandate is available here. The Management Board is furthermore supported by various senior management work streams, including one focused on new and disruptive technologies.
The Board has approved, oversees and continually assesses Remgro’s strategy, the risks, opportunities and other significant matters connected to the triple context in which Remgro operates; as well as the extent to which the proposed strategy depends on the resources and relationships connected to the various forms of capital (being, financial, manufactured, human, intellectual, natural, social and relationship capital, as applicable) (capitals), the legitimate and reasonable needs, interests and expectations of material stakeholders, and the increase, decrease or transformation of the various forms of capitals, that may result from the execution of the proposed strategy. The Board responsibly responds to the negative consequences of its activities and outputs on the triple context in which it operates, and the relevant capitals.
As part of its oversight of performance, the Board is alert to the general viability of Remgro and its status as a going concern, which is considered at least twice a year. Executive directors contribute their insight to day-to-day operations, thereby enabling the Board to identify goals, provide direction and determine the feasibility and sustainability of the strategies proposed.
The Board has approved management’s determination of the reporting frameworks, including reporting standards and legal compliance, such as inter alia the International Financial Reporting Standards, the JSE Listings Requirements, as well as the Companies Act (No. 71 of 2008), as amended, and the principles of the International Integrated Reporting Framework to the extent applicable.
The Board has approved management’s bases for determining materiality for the purpose of deciding which information should be included in external reports. The Board issues the following external reports: the Integrated Annual Report, the Chairman’s Report, the Chief Executive Officer’s (CEO) Report, the Chief Financial Officer’s (CFO) Report, the Report of the Board of Directors, the Corporate Governance Report, the Social and Ethics Committee Report, the Sustainable Development Report, the Risk and Opportunities Management Report, the Audit and Risk Committee Report and the Remuneration Report, in order to meet the legitimate and reasonable information needs of material stakeholders.
Remgro’s Integrated Annual Report focuses on substanceover-form, and provides a holistic view of Remgro’s business model, how Remgro is managed and also how it manages its investments. Remgro’s main focus is to provide a complete analysis of its business to satisfy the information needs of key stakeholders that make use of the Integrated Annual Report.
Sufficient controls are in place to ensure relevant, reliable and accurate reporting. The Social and Ethics Committee is responsible to review and recommend for approval the annual sustainability content included in the Integrated Annual Report or published on Remgro’s website. The Audit and Risk Committee reviews the entire Integrated Annual Report and makes a recommendation to the Board regarding same. An external audit and various other assurance processes are used, as disclosed herein, to ensure that information provided to stakeholders is reliable. The Board is satisfied with the integrity of its external reports.
Remgro ensures that the relevant corporate governance disclosures required in terms of King IV, the Integrated Annual Report, annual financial statements and Remgro’s external reports are made available to stakeholders, and are published on its intranet and/or its website (as appropriate). The Integrated Annual Report, which is a standalone report, only includes an abridged version of the Sustainable Development Report as well as summary financial statements. The detailed Sustainable Development Report and Annual Financial Statements in respect of the year under review are available here. Remgro furthermore refers to its proud participation in the JSE Responsible Investment Index, which uses the FTSE Russell’s ESG Ratings, for disclosure benchmarking.
Remgro has a fully functional Board that leads and controls the Remgro Group. The Board Charter identifies, defines and records the responsibilities, functions and composition of the Board; and serves as a reference for new directors. All directors of Remgro have endorsed the Board Charter, which is regularly reviewed to guide its effective functioning.
During the year under review, the Board reviewed and amended its Board Charter, in light of the principles and recommended practices of King IV. The Board is satisfied that it has discharged its duties and obligations as described in the Board Charter during the year under review.
One of the key responsibilities of directors and members of senior management serving in a non-executive capacity on the boards of Remgro’s subsidiaries and other investee companies is the promotion of good governance by these companies, including, where appropriate, the adoption and implementation of principles and controls included in Remgro’s policies. The activities of the directors and senior management serving on the boards of investee companies are furthermore governed by formal guidelines as approved by the Board.
The Board meets at least five times a year and follows an annual work plan to ensure that all relevant matters are dealt with. The Chairman meets with Remgro’s CEO prior to meetings to discuss important issues on the agenda. Members of the Board and its subcommittees receive an agenda, together with supporting documentation, at least one week prior to each meeting in order to enable them to be fully prepared for meetings.
All directors have unlimited access to the services of the Company Secretary and senior management, as well as to all Remgro’s company records. The Company Secretary provides continuous guidance on corporate governance-related matters.
The Board has approved the protocol to be followed in the event that it or any of its members or committees need to obtain independent, external professional advice at Remgro’s expense, on matters within the scope of their duties, with prior notification to the CEO or the Company Secretary. The Board has also approved the protocol to be followed by its non-executive members for requisitioning documentation from, and arranging meetings with, management, i.e. by the relaying of requests to a member of the Management Board or the Company Secretary who will be responsible for providing the necessary documentation and/or arranging the necessary meetings.