Corporate Governance Guidelines
The Board of Directors (the “Board”) of Greenhill & Co., Inc. (the “Company”), acting on the recommendation of its Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee, has developed and adopted these corporate governance guidelines (the “Guidelines”) to promote the functioning of the Board and its committees and to set forth a common set of expectations as to how the Board should perform its functions.
The Board is elected by the Company’s stockholders and represents the stockholders’ interests in the operation of the business. The Board is the ultimate decision-making body of the Company, except with respect to those matters reserved to the stockholders.
2. Composition of the Board and Board Membership Criteria; Director Qualifications
The composition of the Board should balance the following goals:
- the size of the Board should facilitate substantive discussions of the whole Board in which each director can participate meaningfully;
- the composition of the Board should encompass a broad range of skills, expertise,
- industry knowledge, diversity of opinion and contacts relevant to the Company’s business; and
- a majority of the Board shall consist of directors who the Board has determined have no material relationship with the Company and who are otherwise “independent” under New York Stock Exchange rules.
Selection of Directors
The Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee is responsible for recommending for the Board’s selection the slate of director nominees for election to the Board and for filling vacancies occurring between annual meetings of stockholders.
The Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee shall recommend to the Board criteria for Board membership, which shall include the criteria set forth in these Guidelines, including the following criteria, in accordance with the terms of its charter:
- personal qualities and characteristics, accomplishments and reputation in the business community;
- current knowledge and contacts in the communities in which the Company does business and in the Company’s industry or other industries relevant to the Company’s business;
- ability and willingness to commit adequate time to Board and committee matters;
- the fit of the individual’s skills and personality with those of other directors and potential directors in building a Board that is effective, collegial and responsive to the needs of the Company; and
- diversity of viewpoints, background, experience and other demographics.
A majority of the Board shall be comprised of directors meeting the independence requirements of the New York Stock Exchange. The Board shall make an affirmative determination at least annually as to the independence of each director.
It is the policy of the Board to avoid term limits which have the disadvantage of discontinuing the availability and contributions of directors who have developed experience with, and insight into, the Company and its needs over a period of time.
It is the policy of the Board to avoid a mandatory retirement age for directors which would have the disadvantage of discontinuing the availability and contributions of directors who are otherwise capable and valuable members of the Board.
Simultaneous Service on Other Public Company Boards
It is the policy of the Board that a director shall limit the number of other public company boards on which he or she serves so that he or she is able to devote adequate time to his or her duties to the Company, including preparing for and attending meetings.
Every director shall advise the Chair of the Board and the Chair of the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee in advance of accepting an invitation to serve on another public company board. Service on boards and/or committees of other organizations shall comply with the Company’s conflict of interest policies.
Changes in Primary Employment
It is the policy of the Board that every director must notify the Board of his or her retirement, any change in employer and any other significant change in professional
roles and responsibilities. The Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee shall evaluate the continued appropriateness of Board membership under the new circumstances and make a recommendation to the Board as to any action to be taken with respect to continued Board membership.
Conflicts of Interest
If an actual or potential conflict of interest develops because of a change in the business of the Company, or in a director’s circumstances (for example, significant and ongoing competition between the Company and a business with which the director is affiliated), the director should report the matter immediately to the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee for evaluation and appropriate resolution.
If a director has a personal interest in a matter before the Board, the director shall disclose the interest to the full Board, shall recuse himself or herself from participation in the discussion and shall not vote on the matter.
The invitation to join the Board should be extended by the Board itself via the Chair of the Board of the Company, together with an independent director or a Lead Independent Director, when deemed appropriate.
3. Director Responsibilities
The Board acts as the ultimate decision-making body of the Company and advises and oversees management, who are responsible for the day-to-day operations and management of the Company. In general, it is management’s duty to propose and implement strategic choices, and the Board’s role to approve strategic direction and evaluate performance and results. In fulfilling this role, each director must act in what he or she reasonably believes to be in the best interests of the Company and must exercise his or her business judgment.
Participation at and Preparation for Board Meetings
The Company expects directors to be active and engaged in discharging their duties and to keep themselves informed about the business and operations of the Company.
Directors are expected to attend all Board meetings and the meetings of the committees on which they serve and to prepare themselves for these meetings. Each director should be sufficiently familiar with the business of the Company and is
expected to review material distributed in advance for the meetings, to facilitate active and effective participation in the deliberations of the Board and of each committee on which he or she serves. Directors may attend by telephone or video conference to mitigate conflicts.
4. Board Meetings and Agenda
The Chair of the Board, in conjunction with the Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) and the Lead Independent Director, if there be one, shall determine the frequency and length of Board meetings and shall set the agenda for each Board meeting (or actions to be taken by written consent). The Board shall meet at least four times per year. Board members are encouraged to suggest the inclusion of additional items on an agenda, and any director may request that an item be placed on an agenda.
Management will seek to provide to all directors an agenda and appropriate materials in advance of meetings, although the Board recognizes that this will not always be consistent with the timing of transactions and the operations of the business and that in certain cases it may not be possible. Materials presented to the Board or its committees should be as concise as possible, while still providing the desired information needed for the directors to make an informed judgment.
In order for the Board to exercise fully its oversight functions, management provides the Board with access to information regarding the Company and the markets in which the Company operates. This information comes from a variety of sources, including management reports, security analysts’ reports, information regarding peer performance, interaction with senior management at Board meetings and visits to Company facilities. Any written materials that assist directors in preparing for a Board or committee meeting shall be distributed to the directors in advance of the meeting, to the extent possible, and directors are expected to review such materials prior to the meeting. Upon request, management will make appropriate personnel available to answer any questions a director may have about any aspect of the Company’s business.
The meetings will usually consist of committee meetings and the Board meeting. The Board and each of the committees shall maintain minutes of their meetings.
5. Meetings of Non-Management Directors
To ensure free and open discussion and communication among the non-management directors of the Board, the Company’s non-management directors shall regularly schedule executive sessions in which management does not participate. If this group includes directors who do not meet the independence standards of the New York Stock Exchange, the directors who are so independent shall also meet in executive session at least once a year.
If there is no Lead Independent Director, the non-management directors shall publicly disclose in the annual proxy statement the procedure by which a presiding director, if any, is selected for each executive session and the method for interested parties to communicate directly with the Company’s presiding director or with the non-management directors as a group.
6. Board Size
The Board presently has six members. Although the Board considers its present size to be appropriate, it may consider expanding its size to accommodate an outstanding candidate or candidates or reducing its size if the Board determines that a smaller Board would be more appropriate. The Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee shall periodically review the size of the Board and recommend any proposed changes to the Board.
7. Board Leadership Structure
The Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee shall periodically assess the Board’s leadership structure, including whether the offices of Chair of the Board and CEO should be combined or separate, whether the Company should have a “Lead Independent Director” in the event that the Chair of the Board is not an independent director, and whether the Board’s leadership structure is appropriate given the characteristics or circumstances of the Company.
Lead Independent Director
In the event that the Chair of the Board is not an independent director, the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee may designate an independent director to serve as “Lead Independent Director,” who shall be approved by the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee or, if such approval does not constitute approval by a majority of the independent directors, then by a majority of the independent directors.
The Lead Independent Director, if one is appointed, shall:
- chair any meeting of the Board at which the Chair is not present, including executive sessions of non-management or independent directors;
- have the authority to call meetings of the non-management or independent directors;
- meet with any director who is not adequately performing his or her duties as a member of the Board or any committee;
- facilitate communications between other members of the Board and the Chair of the Board and/or the CEO by serving as the principal liaison; however, each director is free to communicate directly with the Chair of the Board and with the CEO;
- monitor, with the assistance of the Company’s CEO, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Legal Officer, communications from stockholders and other interested parties, report on such communications to the other directors as he or she considers appropriate, and be available, when appropriate, for consultation and direct communication with stockholders;
- work with the Chair of the Board and the CEO in the preparation of the agenda for each Board meeting and approve the agendas to be sent to the Board; and be available to review information to be sent to the Board when appropriate;
- work with the Chair of the Board in determining the need for special meetings of the Board, and approve the number and frequency of Board meetings and meeting schedules, assuring there is sufficient time for discussion of all agenda items; and
- otherwise consult with the Chair of the Board and/or the CEO on matters relating to corporate governance and Board performance.
8. Board Committees
The Board shall have at all times an Audit Committee, a Compensation Committee and a Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee. Subject to any changes that the Board may make from time to time:
- the Audit Committee shall generally be responsible for overseeing the integrity of the Company’s financial statements, its independent auditor, its internal audit function and compliance by the Company with legal and regulatory requirements;
- the Compensation Committee shall generally be responsible for overseeing the Company’s compensation and benefits policies, evaluating senior executive performance and compensation, reviewing the Company’s management succession plan and preparing the report on executive compensation that the Securities and Exchange Commission rules require to be included in the Company’s annual proxy statement; and
- the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee shall generally be responsible for identifying qualified Board candidates, recommending to the Board director nominees for election, recommending directors for appointment to Board committees, overseeing the evaluation of the Board and overseeing the Company’s Corporate Governance Guidelines and Code of Business Conduct and Ethics.
Each of the Audit Committee, Compensation Committee and Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee shall operate pursuant to its own written charter. These charters shall, among other things, set forth the purpose, goals and responsibilities of the particular committee, the procedures for committee member appointment and removal and committee structure and operations, as well as reporting to the Board. The charters shall also provide for an annual evaluation of each committee’s performance.
All directors, whether members of a committee or not, are invited to make suggestions to a committee chair for additions to the agenda of such committee or to request that an item from a committee agenda be considered by the Board. Each committee chair will give a periodic report of his or her committee’s activities to the Board.
Only independent directors meeting the independence requirements of the New York Stock Exchange and, for audit committee members, Rule 10A-3 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and any related rules promulgated by the Securities and Exchange Commission may serve on these three committees. Committee members shall be appointed by the Board based upon the recommendation of the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee, except for the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee, which is directly appointed by the Board. The Board may, from time to time, establish or maintain additional committees as it deems appropriate and in the best interests of the Company.
The Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee shall recommend committee appointments to the Board in accordance with the criteria set forth in its charter.
While the rotation of committee members at certain set intervals should be considered periodically, rotation is not required because the Board believes there are significant benefits attributable to continuity and experience gained in service on a particular committee over time. A director may serve on more than one committee for which he or she qualifies.
9. Board Member Access to Management and Independent Advisors
Board members shall have access to the management and employees of the Company and to its outside counsel and auditors. Any meetings or contacts that a director wishes to initiate may be arranged through the CEO or the Secretary.
Executive officers and other members of senior management are expected to be present at Board meetings at the invitation of the Board. The Board encourages senior management to make presentations and to invite to Board meetings managers and other employees who can provide additional insight into the items being discussed. The Board also encourages senior management to include in Board meetings individuals that the senior management believes may become leaders of the Company.
The Board and each of its committees in accordance with its charter is authorized to hire independent legal, financial or other advisors as they may consider necessary, without conferring with or obtaining the approval of management or, in the case of committees, the full Board in accordance with its charter, for which the Company shall pay the fees and expenses.
10. Director Compensation
The Compensation Committee shall review and approve compensation (including stock option grants and other equity-based compensation) for the Company’s directors. In so reviewing and approving director compensation, the Compensation Committee shall, among other things:
- identify corporate goals and objectives relevant to director compensation;
- evaluate the performance of the Board in light of such goals and objectives and set director compensation based on such evaluation and such other factors as the Compensation Committee and the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee deems appropriate and in the best interests of the Company; and
- evaluate the possibility that directors’ independence may be compromised or impaired for Board or committee purposes if director compensation exceeds customary levels, if the Company makes substantial charitable contributions to an organization with which a director is affiliated or if the company enters into consulting contracts with (or provides other indirect forms of compensation to) a director (which consulting contracts or other indirect forms of compensation are expressly prohibited for Audit Committee members).
A director who is also an officer of the Company does not receive additional compensation for services as a director.
Proposed charitable contributions or pledges of charitable contributions, by the
Company within any given fiscal year in an aggregate amount of $15,000 or more, to an entity for which a director or a member of his or her immediate family serves as a director, officer, or member of such entity’s fund-raising organization or committee, shall be subject to prior review and approval by the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee.
The Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee shall be provided on an annual basis with a report from management of the charitable contributions or pledges made by the Company during the fiscal year in an amount of $15,000 or more, to an entity for which a director or executive officer, or a member of his or her immediate family, serves as a director, officer, or member of such entity’s fund-raising organization or committee.
11. Director Orientation and Continuing Education
All new members of the Board and new members of committees are required to participate in the Company’s orientation program for directors. Other directors may also attend the orientation program.
All directors will be offered the opportunity, and are encouraged, to participate in continuing education programs in order to stay current and knowledgeable about the business of the Company.
Such orientation and continuing education programs shall be overseen by the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee of the Board, in coordination with management.
12. Executive Compensation
The Board, acting through the Compensation Committee, evaluates the performance of the CEO and the Company against the Company’s goals and objectives and determines the compensation level of the CEO. The Board, acting through the Compensation Committee, evaluates and approves the proposals for overall compensation policies applicable to executive officers.
13. Management Evaluation and Management Succession
The Board, through its Compensation Committee, shall evaluate the performance of the senior management of the Company and shall present its findings to the full Board. The Board shall review the Compensation Committee’s report in order to ensure that management’s performance is satisfactory and that management is providing the best leadership for the Company in the long- and short-term.
The Compensation Committee shall review and report to the Board on the
Company’s succession planning, including policies and principles for CEO selection in the event of the incapacitation, retirement or removal of the CEO, and evaluations of, and development plans for, any potential successors to the CEO. The CEO shall provide an annual report to the Compensation Committee recommending and evaluating potential successors, along with an assessment of the experience, performance, skills, planned career paths and any development plans recommended for such individuals. The CEO shall also provide to the Board, on an ongoing basis, his or her recommendation as to a successor in the event of an unexpected emergency.
14. Expectations for Directors
The business and affairs of the Company shall be managed by or under the direction of the Board in accordance with Delaware law. In performing their duties, the primary responsibility of the directors is to exercise their business judgment in the best interests of the Company. The Board has developed a number of specific expectations of directors to promote the discharge of this responsibility and the efficient conduct of the Board’s business, in addition to the expectations set forth in other provisions of these Guidelines.
Loyalty and Ethics. In their roles as directors, all directors owe a duty of loyalty to the Company. This duty of loyalty mandates that the best interests of the Company take precedence over any interests possessed by a director.
The Company has adopted a Code of Business Conduct and Ethics (the “Code”), including a compliance program to enforce the Code. Certain portions of the Code deal with activities of directors, particularly with respect to transactions in the securities of the Company, potential conflicts of interest, the taking of corporate opportunities for personal use, and competing with the Company. Directors should be familiar with the Code’s provisions in these areas and should consult with the Company’s counsel in the event of any issues.
Confidentiality. The proceedings and deliberations of the Board and its committees are confidential. Each director shall maintain the confidentiality of information received in connection with his or her service as a director.
Reviewing and Approving Significant Transactions. Board approval of a particular transaction may be appropriate because of several factors, including:
- legal or regulatory requirements;
- the materiality of the transaction to the Company’s financial performance, risk profile or business;
- the terms of the transaction; or
- other factors, such as the entering into of a new line of business or a variation from the Company’s strategic plan.
To the extent the Board determines it to be appropriate, the Board shall develop standards to be utilized by management in determining types of transactions that should be submitted to the Board for review and approval or notification.
15. Annual Performance Evaluation
The Board, led by the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee, shall establish and conduct an annual self-evaluation to determine whether it and its committees are functioning effectively. The Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee shall oversee the evaluation process and report on such process and the results of the evaluations, including any recommendations for proposed changes, to the Board. This process shall also include annual self-assessments by each Board committee, relying on a review process similar to that used by the Board, with performance criteria for each committee established on the basis of its charter.
16. Evaluation of Individual Director Performance
It is the policy of the Board to have the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee assess, on the basis of established criteria, the performance of each individual director standing for re-election at the next stockholders’ meeting. The established criteria, among other things, address each director’s core competencies, independence and level of commitment.
The Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee considers not only an individual’s qualities, performance and professional responsibilities, but also the composition of the Board and the challenges and needs of the Board at that time. The Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee also considers the impact of any change in the principal occupation of existing directors. Upon completion of the individual director evaluation process, the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee reports to the full Board its conclusions and recommendations for nominations to the Board.
It is the policy of the Board that the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee also should review and consider the performance of any individual director if a situation were to arise that interfered with the proper performance of his or her duties as a member of the Board.
17. Reliance on Management and Outside Advice
In performing its functions, the Board is entitled to rely on the advice, reports and opinions of management, counsel, accountants, auditors and other expert advisors. The
Board shall have the authority to retain and approve the fees and retention terms of its outside advisors.
18. Board Communications
Any person who wishes to contact the Board, committee chairs or the Company’s independent directors may contact the Secretary of the Company at Greenhill & Co., Inc., 1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.