The Company implemented a loyalty voting structure, pursuant to which the former shareholders of Fiat S.p.A. were able to elect to receive one special voting share with a nominal value of €0.01 per share for each common share they were entitled to receive in the Merger, provided that they fulfilled the requirements described in the terms and conditions of the special voting shares. Such shareholders had their common shares registered in a separate register (the “Loyalty Register”) of the Company’s shareholders register. Following this registration, a corresponding number of special voting shares were allocated to the above-mentioned Shareholders. By signing an election form, whose execution was necessary to elect to receive special voting shares, shareholders also agreed to be bound by the terms and conditions thereof, including the transfer restrictions described below.
Following the completion of the Merger, new shareholders may at any time elect to participate in the loyalty voting structure by requesting that the Company registers all or some of their common shares in the Loyalty Register. If these common shares have been registered in the Loyalty Register (and thus blocked from trading in the regular trading system) for an uninterrupted period of three years in the name of the same shareholder, such shares become eligible to receive special voting shares (the “Qualifying Common Shares”) and the relevant shareholder will be entitled to receive one special voting share for each such Qualifying Common Share. If at any time such common shares are de- registered from the Loyalty Register for whatever reason, the relevant shareholder shall lose its entitlement to hold a corresponding number of special voting shares.
A holder of Qualifying Common Shares may at any time request the de-registration of some or all such shares from the Loyalty Register, which will allow such shareholder to freely trade its common shares. From the moment of such request, the holder of Qualifying Common Shares shall be considered to have waived her or his rights to cast any votes associated with such Qualifying Common Shares. Upon the de-registration from the Loyalty Register, the relevant shares will therefore cease to be Qualifying Common Shares. Any de-registration request would automatically trigger a mandatory transfer requirement pursuant to which the special voting shares will be acquired by the Company for no consideration (om niet) in accordance with the terms and conditions of the special voting shares.
The Company’s common shares are freely transferable. However, any transfer or disposal of the Company’s common shares with which special voting shares are associated would trigger the de-registration of such common shares from the Loyalty Register and the transfer of all relevant special voting shares to the Company. Special voting shares are not admitted to listing and are transferable only in very limited circumstances. In particular, no shareholder shall, directly or indirectly: (a) sell, dispose of or transfer any special voting share or otherwise grant any right or interest therein; or (b) create or permit to exist any pledge, lien, fixed or floating charge or other encumbrance over any special voting share or any interest in any special voting share.
The purpose of the loyalty voting structure is to grant long-term shareholders an extra voting right by means of granting a special voting share (shareholders holding special voting shares are entitled to exercise one vote for each special voting share held and one vote for each common share held), without entitling such shareholders to any economic rights, other than those pertaining to the common shares. However, under Dutch law, the special voting shares cannot be excluded from economic entitlements. As a result, pursuant to the Articles of Association, holders of special voting shares are entitled to a minimum dividend, which is allocated to a separate special dividend reserve (the “Special Dividend Reserve”). A distribution from the Special Dividend Reserve or the (partial) release of the Special Dividend Reserve, will require a prior proposal from the board of directors and a subsequent resolution of the meeting of holders of special voting shares. The power to vote upon the distribution from the Special Dividend Reserve is the only power that is granted to that meeting, which can only be convened by the Board of Directors as it deems necessary. The special voting shares do not have any other economic entitlement.
Section 10 of the terms and conditions of the special voting shares include liquidated damages provisions intended to discourage any attempt by holders to violate the terms thereof. These liquidated damages provisions may be enforced by the Company by means of a legal action brought by the Company in the courts of the Netherlands. In particular, a violation of the provisions of the above-mentioned terms and condition concerning the transfer of special voting shares may lead to the imposition of liquidated damages.
Pursuant to Section 12 of the terms and conditions of the special voting shares, any amendment to the terms and conditions (other than merely technical, non-material amendments) may only be made with the approval of the general meeting of shareholders of the Company.
A Shareholder must promptly notify the Company upon the occurrence of a change of control, which is defined in Article 1.1. of the Articles of Association as including any direct or indirect transfer, carried out through one or a series of related transactions, by a shareholder that is not an individual (natuurlijk persoon) as a result of which (i) a majority of the voting rights of such shareholder, (ii) the de facto ability to direct the casting of a majority of the votes exercisable at general meetings of shareholders of such shareholder and/or (iii) the ability to appoint or remove a majority of the directors, executive directors or board members or executive officers of such shareholder or to direct the casting of a majority or more of the voting rights at meetings of the board of directors, governing body or executive committee of such shareholder has been transferred to a new owner. No change of control shall be deemed to have occurred if the transfer of ownership and/or control is an intragroup transfer under the same parent company, (b) the transfer of ownership and/or control is the result of the succession or the liquidation of assets between spouses or the inheritance, inter vivo donation or other transfer to a spouse or a relative up to and including the fourth degree or (c) the fair market value of the Qualifying Common Shares held by such shareholder represents less than twenty percent (20%) of the total assets of the Transferred Group at the time of the transfer and the Qualifying Common Shares held by such shareholder, in the sole judgment of the Company, are not otherwise material to the Transferred Group or the change of control transaction.
Article 1.1. of the Articles of Association defines “Transferred Group” as comprising the relevant shareholder together with its affiliates, if any, over which control was transferred as part of the same change of control transaction, as such term is defined in the above mentioned Article of the Articles of Association. A change of control will trigger the de-registration of the relevant Qualifying Common Shares from the Loyalty Register and the suspension of the special voting rights attached to the Qualifying Common Shares.
If the Company was to be dissolved and liquidated, after all the debts of the Company have been paid, any remaining balances would be distributed in the following order of priority: (i) first, to satisfy the aggregate balance of share premium reserves and other reserves than the Special Dividend Reserve to the holders of common shares in proportion to the aggregate nominal value of the common shares held by each of them; (ii) second, an amount equal to the aggregate amount of the nominal value of the common shares to the holders thereof in proportion to the aggregate nominal value of the common shares held by each of them; (iii) third, an amount equal to the aggregate amount of the special voting shares dividend reserve to the holders of special voting shares in proportion to the aggregate nominal value of the special voting shares held by each of them; and (iv) fourth, the aggregate amount of the nominal value of the special voting shares to the holders thereof in proportion to the aggregate nominal value of the special voting shares held by each of them.