As a stable core shareholder, the employee participation of voestalpine supports the long-term sustainable development of the group. In addition, it provides protection and acts as a shield against any attempt at a hostile take-over – for example, representing more than 10% of the vote it can stop a squeeze-out. The voestalpine Employee Participation, a private foundation that pools the shares and therefore the voting rights of the employees, has two powerful ways to influence the decision-making process. Firstly by being represented at the Annual General Meeting of shareholders, and secondly by nominating a member to the Supervisory Board of voestalpine.
The participation in Austria is mainly financed by means of contributions from collective bargaining agreement increases, which are applied to build up the participation. All Austrian employees are regularly assigned shares in accordance with these contributions. In addition, shares are also assigned to employees as part of incentive payments. (For details about the scheme, reference is made to the publication "Wir sind daran nicht ganz unbeteiligt" – German only)
In – up to now – 12 stages, the voestalpine Employee Participation in Austria has been extended successively. In 2004, a separate scheme started up in the Netherlands, and since 2009, the participation has been extended to Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Poland, Belgium, Czech Republic, Italy, Switzerland, Romania and since 2018 also in Spain and Sweden where shares are offered at a discounted price. Notwithstanding the different fiscal and corporate law systems, the internationalization is making steady progress. In 2019, 97 voestalpine companies outside Austria were already integrated. The average participation rate there is 20%.
On the European level, the combination of individual share ownership and pooling of voting rights remains a key feature of the voestalpine Employee Participation, which makes the scheme unique in Europe. (For an overview of schemes all over Europe, please refer to the homepage of EFES / European Federation of Employee Share Ownership).