Our “Supervisory Board of the Week” is not a new addition this time, but an old campaigner: Ernst-Moritz Lipp (69) has been Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the MDax company Grenke for a good 15 years, but is now facing what is probably his greatest challenge. He has to refute the serious accusations of an analysis company called Viceroy Research, which sent the share downhill this week. The problem here is that the six-member Supervisory Board is also partly reminiscent of Wirecard. For instance, the Chairman of the Supervisory Board has been on board for a long time now and real top-class experts are missing. Although there is an Audit Committee, it consists of Lipp, company founder Wolfgang Grenke as well as Florian Schulte, who has been a member of the Supervisory Board since 2010.
Much competence, little independence
The fact that there was no fresh wind from outside for a long time will make it more difficult to build up trust. Are we therefore facing a new case of Wirecard, where the badly positioned Supervisory Board sounded the alarm bells early on? Slowly: the bottom line is that the Grenke board is more competent and diverse, thanks above all to former Atos manager Ljiljana Mitic, former PwC partner Jens Rönnberg and also Schulte. And apart from the top of the Supervisory Board, there have been some fluctuations in recent years; Rönnberg, for example, joined the Board at the end of 2019. However, better than Wirecard does not mean better by a long shot. The fact that permanent incumbent Ernst-Moritz Lipp and his deputy Wolfgang Grenke dominate both the Supervisory Board and the Audit Committee raises pressing questions about independence – and shows once again that we need higher corporate governance standards on the stock exchange.