2020 Annual general meeting waives dividend payout and adds three new members to board of directors

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At the 2020 Annual General Meeting, the shareholders of Alternative Bank Schweiz AG decided to forego a dividend payment due to the current Corona crisis. They also elected three new members to the Board of Directors: Valérie Clapasson, Véronique Gigon and Christoph Birkholz.

Because of the Corona crisis, the 29. Annual General Meeting of Alternative Bank Schweiz AG (ABS) on 26. May 2020 held without the presence of the shareholders. By e-voting on the Internet or by mail, the approximately 7,600 shareholders were able to vote by 18. May to cast their vote. 2,414 people participated in the vote in one of these ways.

No dividend payout

The Annual General Meeting followed the proposal of the Board of Directors to forego a dividend payment in 2020. "After a successful 2019 financial year, ABS is in a good economic position," says Anita Wymann, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of ABS. "Nevertheless, the undistributed amount of 1.5 million Swiss francs is intended to additionally strengthen the bank in times of the Corona crisis."The Board of Directors and the General Meeting of Shareholders are thus also following a FINMA recommendation to all banks.

Tailwind for the Innovation Fund Association

Many ABS shareholders donate all or part of their dividends to the Innovation Fund Association, founded by ABS in 1996. The Board of Directors promotes model and innovative projects by providing equity in the form of participations or by granting loans and guarantees. If ABS does not pay out dividends, these donations will fall away. To compensate for the shortfall, the General Meeting decided to increase the bank's donation to the fund by 150,000 Swiss francs to a total of 250,000 Swiss francs.

New faces on the Board of Directors

The Annual General Meeting of ABS elected on 26. May also appointed three new members to the Board of Directors for a three-year term of office: the body is now reinforced by Valérie Clapasson, Véronique Gigon and Christoph Birkholz.

Valérie Clapasson, 41, has a degree in media and communications and completed a two-year banking program for university graduates at Crédit Suisse. She then worked as a PR specialist in the bank's Corporate Responsibility Communication department. She has worked for the Kalkbreite cooperative since 2017 and has been its co-manager since 2019. She was previously on the board of the Hofgarten cooperative in Zurich.

Véronique Gigon held senior positions at the Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications until 2019. The 56-year-old lawyer is currently involved in various boards of directors in the areas of mobility and renewable energies. It is also an associate partner of GetDiversity GmbH, a management consulting firm focused on diversity in leadership roles.

The 36-year-old economist Christoph Birkholz is co-founder of the Impact Hub Zurich, Kickstart Innovation AG and Yova AG, an online asset management company for sustainable investments for private individuals. At Kickstart, a company that develops innovation programs for companies and organizations, Christoph Birkholz is in an executive position. At Impact Hub and Yova, he holds strategic positions in business development and is an authorized signatory.

"With the three new members on the Board of Directors, ABS is strengthening its expertise in the areas of mobility, renewable energy, housing cooperatives and innovative business models," explains Anita Wymann. "All three individuals bring extensive leadership experience and networking that is promising for the ABS. Véronique Gigon also represents French-speaking Switzerland on the board, which is very important to us."

Strengthened for the future

The three current members of the Board of Directors Braida Dür, Christina Aus der Au Heymann and Gerhard Andrey were confirmed by the Annual General Meeting for a further term of office.

This brings the total number of members on the ABS Board of Directors to ten. Since the unexpected death of ABS board member Benjamin Zemann in July 2019, the board has operated with the statutory minimum of seven members. "We want to position ourselves well for future challenges," says Anita Wymann, explaining the addition of new members to the Board of Directors. This would allow it to benefit from a diversity of skills and the broad networking of the individual members. This strengthens ABS. "Due to the outstanding applications of the now elected members, we have decided to propose these three candidates for election out of more than 90 applications received," said the Chairwoman of the Board of Directors. The Annual General Meeting of ABS is scheduled for 26. May followed this election recommendation with a high level of approval.

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