In the wake of the financial crisis, there is increased awareness that capital markets cannot function efficiently without appropriate corporate governance. Therefore, both in Austria and on the EU level measures have been taken to further ensure investor confidence in market participants.
With the Austrian Code of Corporate Governance, our working group for corporate governance (chaired by the capital market representative Mr. Richard Schenz) has created a body of rules and regulations for responsible leadership that gives guidance to stock companies in Austria, in accordance with international standards. This voluntary self-regulating measure fosters confidence and trust through increased transparency and better cooperation between the supervisory board, management board and the shareholders. It emphasises long-term added value and sustainable business policies.
A formal letter of intent expressing the commitment to the Austrian Code of Corporate Governance is a prerequisite for the admittance to the prime market of the Vienna Stock Exchange. Additionally, Article 243b of the Austrian Commercial Code requires listed companies to publish a corporate governance report that needs to include a commitment letter to an accepted corporate governance code.
The Austrian Code of Corporate Governance is amended on a yearly basis (or more frequently, if required) in the light of national and international developments.
As part of their work on preventing a future financial crisis and strengthening the financial system, the European Commission is launching initiatives in the field of corporate governance. In June 2010 the Commission published the green paper “Corporate governance in financial institutions and remuneration policies”. The paper provides a comprehensive basis for discussion and is most likely to result in detailed legislative and non-legislative proposals.