Supervisory Board Chairman’s statement
2013 was an inspiring year for AkzoNobel. Although we experienced constant headwinds due to the economic environment, the year was notable for the roll-out of our new company strategy. It was also the year in which AkzoNobel was once again ranked number one in the Materials industry group on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.
The challenging economic conditions persisted throughout 2013 and I do not expect an early improvement in the trends facing our end-user market segments. I am convinced, however, that our CEO Ton Büchner, together with his dedicated team, will be able to drive AkzoNobel through these difficult economic circumstances. The acceleration of the performance improvement program and the strategy announced in February 2013 are clearly the right focus for the company to have.
With the additions of Conrad Keijzer, Ruud Joosten and Marten Booisma to the Executive Committee, we have a committed and enthusiastic team with excellent strategic knowledge and operational skills which will be of great benefit to the company as we look to make swift progress on our strategic agenda.
The new strategy of building on leading market positions and focusing on four end-user segments, as well as concentrating on organic growth, operational excellence and sustainability, has been in place for a year now. Our end-user approach in particular has helped us to further develop key customer- driven actions. Remuneration has also been aligned with announced targets in order to drive performance towards achieving the strategy. In addition, the performance improvement program we announced in 2011 continued to do well during the course of 2013, with more than the €500 million in EBITDA that we originally targeted being delivered a year early. As a result of this acceleration, I am confident that AkzoNobel will continue to embed a culture of continuous improvement and operational excellence.
I am particularly proud that AkzoNobel was again ranked in first place on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (in the newly named Materials industry group), the eighth consecutive year we have been ranked in the top three. The ranking underlines the fact that sustainability is at the heart of our strategy and emphasizes our shared belief that sustainability is business and business is sustainability. With this strategy, we have been creating more value for all our stakeholders.
The following pages provide a detailed overview of the Supervisory Board’s activities during the reporting year. Relevant information concerning myself and my fellow Supervisory Board members is also provided. Our corporate governance, remuneration policy, compliance and integrity management and shareholder relations are covered in the Governance and compliance section. I hope it will give you a good understanding of the framework under which the company operates. At AkzoNobel, we believe that good corporate governance is integral to the structures and processes that the Supervisory Board, Board of Management and Executive Committee have put in place in order to achieve our strategic objectives.
On behalf of my fellow members of the Supervisory Board, I would like to thank the CEO, the CFO, the other members of the Executive Committee and all employees for their dedication and hard work for the company in 2013. The Supervisory Board experienced this during a combined visit with the Executive Committee to Turkey. Country visits are important for our understanding of the local businesses and people and they support us in performing our governance tasks.
Finally, I would like to thank my fellow Supervisory Board members for their commitment and support during the year. I believe that the Supervisory Board is a strong and united team with a wide range of experience and expertise that will continue to serve the company well. In April 2014, I will reach the end of my third and final term as a member of the Supervisory Board. As per the 2014 AGM, I will therefore hand over the Chairmanship. A thorough process has been followed to prepare my successor and I am confident that the new Chairman will lead the company into an exciting new era.
Chairman of the Supervisory Board