Germany: Stärkung der Rechte der Hauptversammlung hinsichtlich der Vergütung von Vorständen

Last Updated: 5 November 2018
Article by Falk Repenning
Most Read Contributor in Germany, November 2018

Die am 09.06.2017 in Kraft getretene und bis zum 10.06.2019 umzusetzende Richtlinie (EU) 2017/828 könnte für börsennotierte Gesellschaften tiefgreifende Änderungen bedeuten. Ziel der Richtlinie ist unter anderem, die Mitbestimmungsrechte der Hauptversammlung hinsichtlich der Vorstandsvergütung zu stärken, so dass Vorstandsgehälter zunehmend von den Eigentümern der Aktiengesellschaften mitbestimmt werden.

Richtlinie (EU) 2017/828

Das Ziel der Richtlinie wird bereits aus der amtlichen Überschrift deutlich, wenn es darin heißt, dass die Änderung der vorherigen Richtlinie der Förderung einer langfristigen Mitwirkung von Aktionären dienen soll. Diese Förderung versucht, die Richtlinie durch verschiedene Instrumente zu erreichen, so unter anderem auch durch das Vorhaben, die Aktionäre stärker bei Vergütungsfragen des Vorstands einzubinden. Beabsichtigt ist dabei eine Verschärfung des Themas Say on Pay", wonach zukünftig die Aktionäre über die Vergütung des Vorstands in der Hauptversammlung entscheiden sollen. Der zur vorherigen Aktionärsrichtlinie aus dem Jahre 2009 neugefasste Artikel 9a bestimmt, dass  Aktiengesellschaften eine Unternehmenspolitik zur Vorstandsvergütung erarbeiten und die Aktionäre über diese Vorschläge abstimmen sollen. Diese Abstimmung für die Vergütung des Vorstands soll entsprechend Absatz 2 verbindlich sein. Absatz 5 besagt zudem, dass der Turnus, innerhalb dessen die Vergütungspolitik zu bestimmen ist, vier Jahre beträgt, soweit keine wesentliche Veränderung" eine vorherige Abstimmung erfordern sollte. Soweit die Vergütungspolitik nicht genehmigt wird oder die Hauptversammlung einen solchen Vorschlag ablehnt, kann zwar auf die bisherige Praxis zurückgegriffen werden, jedoch soll der Hauptversammlung unverzüglich zur nächsten Hauptversammlung ein neuer Vorschlag unterbreitet werden, über den ebenfalls abzustimmen sein soll. Auch hinsichtlich besserer Transparenz in Vergütungsfragen sieht die Richtlinie Neuerungen vor. So bestimmt Art. 9a Absatz 7, dass die Vergütungspolitik der Gesellschaft nach der Abstimmung durch die Hauptversammlung unverzüglich und kostenfrei auf der Internetseite der Gesellschaft veröffentlicht werden muss.

Das deutsche Aktiengesetz verfolgt in seiner bisherigen Grundkonzeption eine andere Vorgehensweise. So ist seit dem VorstAG (verabschiedet auf Grundlage der Vorgaben der vorherigen Aktionärsrichtlinie) allein der Aufsichtsrat als Gesamtorgan, das heißt, auch nicht auf Ausschüsse delegierbar, zuständig hinsichtlich der Festsetzung von Vorstandsbezügen (§ 87 AktG). Die Hauptversammlung kann lediglich indirekt die Vergütung des Vorstands beeinflussen. So bedarf es bei der Entscheidung über die Durchführung von Aktienoptionsplänen und deren Ausgestaltung sowie über die Zuteilung von Bezugsrechten an Vorstandsmitglieder nach § 193 Absatz 2 Nr. 4 AktG eines zustimmenden Beschlusses der Hauptversammlung. Die (Kern-)Vergütung, also die Vergütung des Vorstands aufgrund Dienstvertrags, obliegt hingegen nicht dem Einfluss der Hauptversammlung. Denn der ebenfalls durchs VorstAG eingeführte § 120 Absatz 4 Satz 1 AktG, wonach bei börsennotierten Gesellschaften die Hauptversammlung über die Billigung des Systems zur Vergütung der Vorstandsmitglieder beschließen kann, entlarvt sich in Satz 2 selbst, wonach der Beschluss weder Rechte noch Pflichten begründet und die Hoheit des Aufsichtsrats nach § 87 AktG unberührt bleibt, als proklamierende Zustimmungs- oder Missbilligungserklärung der Vorstandsarbeit, zumal ein solcher Beschluss ohnehin nicht die konkrete Höhe der Vorstandsvergütung zum Gegenstand hätte, sondern lediglich das System der Vergütung, also allenfalls abstrakte Elemente.

Anmerkungen:

Ob wesentliche Änderungen für das deutsche Aktienrecht zu erwarten sind, bleibt allerdings auch in Anbetracht der bis Juni 2019 umzusetzenden Richtlinie fraglich. Denn Art. 9a sieht keinesfalls ausschließlich die bindende Wirkung einer Abstimmung über die Vorstandsvergütung vor. Nach Absatz 3 können die Mitgliedsstaaten auch vorsehen, dass die Abstimmung in der Hauptversammlung über die Vergütungspolitik empfehlenden Charakter hat." Aufgrund des im deutschen Recht vorherrschenden dualen Systems, geprägt von gegenseitiger Kontrolle durch Vorstand und Aufsichtsrat, würde die Übertragung eines Teils der Personalhoheit vom Aufsichtsrat auf die Hauptversammlung einen Systembruch darstellen. Es ist zu erwarten, dass sich der deutsche Gesetzgeber dieser Alternative bedienen wird, um den Vorgaben der Richtlinie gerecht zu werden. Nichtsdestotrotz wird sich die Rechtslage aber auch unter Anwendung der Alternative des empfehlenden Charakters" ändern. Denn Absatz 3 bestimmt zugleich, dass im Fall einer Ablehnung bereits auf der kommenden Hauptversammlung ein neuer Vorschlag zu unterbreiten ist.

Keine Auswirkungen wird die Umsetzung der Richtlinie auf kleinere Aktiengesellschaften haben, da die Richtlinie ausdrücklich nur börsennotierte Aktiengesellschaften anspricht. Für diese allerdings dürften selbst bei der zu erwartenden Variante nach Absatz 3 unter dem Stichwort empfehlenden Charakter" zukünftig stärkere Auseinandersetzungen zwischen den Organen und den Aktionären auf den Hauptversammlungen zu erwarten sein.

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