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Just before 8 o’clock and it’s already underway. Backstage. Everything is getting wired. After all, the Chairman of the Management Board’s speech needs to be heard outside this hall too. Buffet trays roll up. Quite a few employees are opening up their laptops. This is the day for shareholders and investors: NORMA Group’s Annual General Meeting. I’m here, too, and I’m curious how the day will go.
From 9 o’clock, the first shareholders meet in the German National Library in Frankfurt/Main. Visitors receive their voting rights at the entrance. This allows them to vote on, for example, how the company’s balance sheet profit is used and whether the members of the Management Board and Supervisory Board should be discharged. Andreas Trösch, who heads the Investor Relations department, mans the entrance, ready to answer the first questions.
The Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Dr. Stefan Wolf, punctually welcomes the 70 odd shareholders at 10 o’clock. Then Werner Deggim steps up to the podium. “The world had two surprises in store in 2016. Surprise number one: Brexit. The UK voted against remaining in the EU. And surprise number two: Donald Trump won the US presidential elections,” explained the Chairman of the Management Board.
Almost come to blows over sausages
As the Annual General Meeting progresses, I snap some photos and live tweet. Meanwhile, a buffet is lined up. It certainly couldn’t hurt to move a bit closer, I decide. After all, word has it other General Meetings have almost come to blows over sausages. So I take up a watchful eye on the line as it streams past leek and cheese quiche, mini schnitzels, glasses of vegetarian pasta and chocolate mousse.
But things stay calm. The food seems to be pretty good.
The shareholders of NORMA Group have approved a dividend of EUR 0.95 per share by a large majority at the Annual General Meeting 2017 in Frankfurt/Main.
The total dividend is around EUR 30.3 million. This equates to a distribution rate of 32.0 percent as measured by the adjusted consolidated net profit for 2016.
Since its IPO in 2011, NORMA Group has increased its dividend for the fifth year in a row and kept to its sustainable dividend policy of a dividend rate of 30 to 35 percent.
A good deal more exciting are the enormous showcases and their selection of the roughly 35,000 different products NORMA Group offers. Stephan Mann and Harald Sachs stand sentinel by the large glass display.
The engineers explain the finer technicalities to interested passersby. Like how exactly a urea line works as it transports urea solution to clean a vehicle’s exhaust. The experts are ready when conversation turns to the heat protection of plastic products, open with anecdotes on personal experiences with dishwashers. Even there, NORMA Group hose clamps ensure that no water ever leaks.
But the most frequently asked question of the day is “Where can I find the annual report?” This is a day for shareholders and investors, after all. They want information on sales, margins, basic investments, and then of course the company’s future strategy and course. And that also includes new, groundbreaking products.
“We are particularly thorough in designing our innovation process,” Werner Deggim conveys. “Our long-term plans – what we call our Innovation Roadmaps – lead to new developments, as do our Innovation Councils, like our one for electromobility.”
Questions center on acquisitions and Industry 4.0
Next up, shareholders get the chance to address questions directly to the Management Board. Concentration in the back office reaches its peak. Employees from all of the different departments are there to offer their expert knowledge for fitting answers. In real time. Their answers are printed out and passed to the Board in the hall. Questions center on Corporate Responsibility, individual markets such as the pharmaceutical industry, further acquisitions, NORMA Group’s Operational Global Excellence Program and the opportunities of Industry 4.0.
Once all of the shareholders’ questions have been answered, Dr. Stefan Wolf concludes the Annual General Meeting. The day of shareholders and investors is over – until next year that is.
You can find further information on the Annual General Meeting, the complete speech of CEO Werner Deggim and the Annual Report 2016 here: investoren.normagroup.com