The statutory two-tier company is a special form of company that can apply to the NV and BV (as well as the cooperative). It is often thought that this only applies to internationally operating groups with part of their activities in the Netherlands. However, this does not necessarily have to be the case; the structure regime can become applicable sooner than one would expect. Is this something that should be avoided or does it also have its advantages? This article discusses the ins and outs of the statutory two-tier company and enables you to make a proper assessment of its effects.
The objective of the statutory two-tier company
The statutory two-tier company was introduced into our legal system due to the development of share ownership in the middle of the last century. Where there used to be majority shareholders who were committed for the long term, it became more and more common (even for pension funds) to invest briefly in a company. As this also led to less involvement, the General Meeting of Shareholders (hereinafter ‘GMS’) was less able to supervise the management. This led the legislator to introduce the statutory two-tier company in the XNUMXs: a special form of business in which stricter supervision is sought in a balance between labour and capital. This balance is intended to be achieved by tightening the duties and powers of the Supervisory Board (hereinafter ‘SB’) and by introducing a Works Council at the expense of the power of the GMS.
Today, this development in shareholdership is still relevant. Because the role of many shareholders in large companies is passive, it can happen that a small group of shareholders take the lead in GMSs and exert a great deal of power over the management. The short duration of shareholdership encourages a short-term vision in which the shares must increase in value as quickly as possible. This is a narrow view of the company’s interests, as the company’s stakeholders (such as its employees) benefit from a long-term vision. The Corporate Governance Code speaks of ‘long-term value creation’ in this context. That is why the statutory two-tier company is still an important company form today, which aims to redress the balance of stakeholder interests.
Which companies are eligible for the structure regime?
The statutory two-tier rules (also called the structure regime or ‘structuurrregime’ in Dutch) are not immediately compulsory. The law sets requirements which a company must meet before application can become compulsory after a certain period (unless there is an exemption, which will be discussed below). These requirements are set out in section XNUMX:XNUMX of the Dutch Civil Code (‘DCC’):
- The subscribed capital of the company bebarengan karo cadangan sing kasebut ing neraca kalebu cathetan panjelasan sing jumlah at least jumlah sing ditemtokake dening Keputusan Royal (saiki tetep ing €XNUMX million). Iki uga kalebu saham sing dituku maneh (nanging ora dibatalake) lan kabeh cadangan sing didhelikake kaya sing ditampilake ing cathetan panjelasan.
- The company, or a dependent company thereof, has established a Works Council based on a legal obligation.
- At least XNUMX employees in the Netherlands are employed dening perusahaan lan perusahaan sing gumantung. Kasunyatan manawa karyawan ora duwe pegawean permanen utawa full-time ora duwe peran penting ing perkara kasebut.
What is a dependent company?
An important concept from these requirements is the dependent company. There is often a misconception that the statutory two-tier rules do not apply to the parent company, for example because it is not the parent company that has set up the Works Council but the subsidiary company. It is therefore also important to check whether certain conditions have been met in respect of other companies within the group. These could count as dependent companies (according to article XNUMX:XNUMX/XNUMX DCC) if they are:
- wong sing sah perusahaan utawa siji utawa luwih perusahaan gumantung, utawa bebarengan lan kanggo akun utawa dhewe, nyumbang paling ora setengah saka modal sing langganan,
- perusahaan sing business is registered in the commercial register and for which the company or a dependent company tanggung jawab penuh dadi mitra tumrap pihak katelu kanggo kabeh utang.
Finally, it is possible to apply the (full or mitigated) two-tier board system voluntarily. Yen ngono, mung sarat kapindho babagan Dewan Kerja sing ditrapake. Aturan rong tingkat undhang-undhang kasebut ditrapake yen dilebokake ing artikel asosiasi perusahaan.
The formation of the statutory two-tier company
If the company meets the abovementioned requirements, it is legally qualified as a ‘large company’. This must be reported to the trade register within two months after the adoption of the annual accounts by the GMS. An omission of this registration counts as an economic offence. Furthermore, any legitimately interested party can request the court to make this registration. If this registration has been in the trade register continuously for three years, the structure regime is applicable. At that time, the articles of association must have been amended to facilitate this regime. The period for the application of the statutory two-tier rules does not start running until the registration has been made, even if the notification has been omitted. The registration may be interrupted in the interim if the company no longer meets the above requirements. When the company is notified that it does comply again, the period starts over from the beginning (unless the period was wrongfully interrupted).
Kewajiban notifikasi ora ditrapake nalika ana pambebasan. Yen rezim struktur ditrapake, iki bakal mandheg tanpa periode run-off. Pengecualian ing ngisor iki kalebu saka ukum:
- The company is a perusahaan gumantung saka entitas hukum sing ditrapake rezim struktur sing lengkap utawa mitigasi. Kanthi tembung liyane, anak perusahaan kasebut dikecualikan yen sistem dewan rong tingkat (mitigasi) ditrapake kanggo wong tuwa, nanging uga kosok balene ora nyebabake pengecualian kanggo wong tuwa.
- The perusahaan tumindak minangka perusahaan manajemen lan keuangan ing klompok internasional, kajaba karyawan sing digunakake perusahaan lan perusahaan kelompok umume digunakake ing njaba Walanda.
- Perusahaan sing paling ora separo saka ibukutha sing ditanggepi is participated in a usaha patungan paling ora rong entitas hukum sing tundhuk karo rezim struktur.
- The service company is an international group.
Ana uga rezim struktur sing diringanake utawa ringkih kanggo klompok internasional, sing SB ora sah milih utawa milih anggota dewan manajemen. Alesan kanggo iki yaiku kesatuan lan kabijakan ing klompok sing duwe perusahaan rong tingkat kukum wis rusak. Iki ditrapake yen ana salah sawijining kasus ing ngisor iki:
- Perusahaan kasebut minangka (i) perusahaan dewan rong tingkat (ii) paling ora setengah saka modal sing diterbitake dicekel dening perusahaan induk (Walanda utawa asing) utawa perusahaan katergantungan lan (iii) mayoritas group’s employees work outside the Netherlands.
- Paling ora separo ibukutha sing diterbitake saka perusahaan tingkat loro sing kukumipun dianakake dening loro utawa luwih perusahaan miturut a joint venture pengaturan (pengaturan kerja sama), mayoritas karyawan ing klompok kerja ing njaba Walanda.
- Paling ora separo ibukutha sing diterbitake dicekel dening perusahaan induk utawa perusahaan sing gumantung karo pengaturan kolaborasi bebarengan sing dadi perusahaan tingkat loro sing sah.
The consequences of the structure regime
Yen periode kasebut kadaluwarsa, perusahaan kudu ndandani artikel asosiasi miturut ketentuan kukum sing ngatur sistem dewan tingkat loro (Artikel 2: 158-164 saka DCC kanggo NV lan Artikel 2: 268-2: 274 saka DCC kanggo BV). Perusahaan tingkat loro beda karo perusahaan biasa ing poin ing ngisor iki:
- The establishment of a supervisory board (utawa struktur dewan siji-tingkat miturut Artikel 2: 164a / 274a DCC) is mandatory;
- The SB will be given broader powers kanthi biaya kekuwatan GMS. Contone, SB bakal diwenehi hak persetujuan babagan keputusan manajemen sing penting lan (ing ngisor rezim lengkap) bakal bisa milih lan ngilangi direktur.
- The anggota SB ditunjuk dening GMS nalika nominasi dening SB, sing sapratelon anggota ditunjuk dening Dewan Pekerjaan. Janjian kasebut mung bisa ditolak dening mayoritas mutlak sing nuduhake paling ora sepertiga saka modal sing diterbitake.
Structural regime objectionable?
The power of small, activist and exclusively profit-oriented shareholders can be curtailed by the structure regime. This is because the SB, through the extension of its powers, can focus on a wider range of interests within the company’s interest, including the shareholder’s interest, which benefits the stakeholders in a broad sense as well as the continuity of the company. Employees also gain more influence in the company’s policy, because the Works Council appoints one third of the SB.
Restriction of shareholder control
However, the statutory two-tier company can be disadvantageous if a situation arises which deviates from the short-term shareholder practice. This is because large shareholders, who previously enriched the company with their influence and long-term vision (as, for example, in family businesses), are limited in their control by the two-tier board system. This can also make the company less attractive to foreign capital. This is because the statutory two-tier company is no longer able to exercise the rights of appointment and dismissal – the most far-reaching exercise of this control – and (even in the mitigated regime) to exercise the right of veto on important management decisions. The remaining rights of recommendation or objection and the possibility of dismissal in the interim are only a pale shadow of this. The desirability of a statutory two-tier system therefore depends on the shareholder culture in the company.
A tailor-made structure regime
Nanging, sampeyan bisa nggawe sawetara pengaturan kanggo nampung para pemegang saham perusahaan miturut wates ukum. Contone, sanajan artikel ing asosiasi ora bisa diwatesi kanggo nyetujoni keputusan manajemen penting dening SB, sampeyan uga kudu nyetujoni lembaga korporat liyane (kayata GMS) kanggo keputusan kasebut. Kanggo iki, aturan normal kanggo ngowahi artikel asosiasi ditrapake. Kejabi penyimpangan ing artikel asosiasi, penyimpangan kontrak uga bisa ditindakake. Nanging, iki ora disaranake amarga ora bisa dileksanakake ing hukum perusahaan. Kanthi nggawe amandemen sing sah kanggo aturan rong undhang sing sah, bisa uga golek cara menyang rezim sing cocog karo perusahaan kasebut, sanajan aplikasi wajib kasebut.
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