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Corporate Governance practices
We comply with the corporate governance guidelines under applicable Brazilian law and we believe the corporate governance guidelines applicable to us under Brazilian law are consistent with the NYSE guidelines. Among these best practices, we highlight the following:
- Director Independence: a majority of our board of directors qualify as independent directors under the listing rules of the Brazilian stock exchanges,
- Executive Sessions: our corporate governance practices do not require non-management directors to meet regularly in executive sessions without management and independent directors are not required to meet alone in an executive session at least once a year,
- Governance Committee: we have a Governance Committee consisting of three members, two of whom must qualify as independent directors under the listing rules of the Brazilian stock exchanges, that are elected by and report direclty to our board of directors,
- Compensation Committee: we have a Compensation Committee consisting of three members, two of whom must qualify as independent directors under the listing rules of the Brazilian stock exchanges, that are elected by and report direclty to our board of directors,
- Audit Committee: we have an Audit Committee composed of three members who are elected by our board of directors and, according to our bylaws, a majority of which must be independent members. The members are appointed for a two-year term of office, being permitted reelection, with a limit of ten consecutive years in office. Upon reaching the ten consecutive year limit, members will become eligible to serve on this committee again after three years from the end of his or her last term of office,
- Equity Compensation Plans: our equity based compensation plans require shareholder approval. The grants under the plans require approvals from the Compensation Committee and our board of directors,
- Shareholder Approval for Issuance of Securities: issuances of securities require shareholder approval by absolute majority vote, with certain limited exceptions provided for in our bylaws,
- Code of Business Conduct and Ethics: our Code of Ethics and Conduct sets forth the ethical principles and standards of conduct that guide the businesses and decisions of the Company. The Code contains policies, standards, reporting procedures and other compliance procedures and established the Conduct Committee and Canal Confidencial to provide full transparency to and intensify the dissemination of the Code. The Conduct Committee is responsible for the management of the Code, ensuring its compliance and adequacy to the reality of the business environment of Azul. The Canal Confidencial consists of a direct communications platform that can be used by crewmembers to solve any doubts, obtain clarifications or file reports,
- Conflicts of Interest: conflicts of interest and related party transactions are governed by the Related-Party Transactions Policy of Azul, which was approved by our board of directors in November 2017. The policy sets forth the reporting requirements of key management, the review and oversight procedures of the legal department, the standards of evaluation and approval of related party transactions by the legal department or board of directors, including the Audit Committee and Governance Committee, as applicable, the required disclosure of certain related party transactions, and penalities for noncompliance with the policy. The policy also prohibits certain related party transactions and exempts certain other transactions from the requirements of the policy,
- Solicitation of Proxies: the soliciation of proxies and provision of proxy materials for the general shareholders’ meeting are governed by Brazilian Corporate Law, our bylaws and the listing agreement signed with the NYSE.
Principal differences between Brazilian and U.S. corporate governance practices
We are subject to the NYSE corporate governance listing standards. As a foreign private issuer, the standards applicable to us are considerably different to the standards applicable to U.S. listed companies. Under the NYSE rules, we are required only:
- To have an audit committee or audit board that meets certain requirements, pursuant to an exemption available to foreign private issuers,
- To provide prompt certification by our chief executive officer of any material non-compliance with any corporate governance rules,
- To provide a brief description of the significant differences between our corporate governance practices and the NYSE corporate governance practice required to be followed by U.S. listed companies.
A summary of the significant differences between our corporate governance practices and those required of U.S. listed companies is included below.
Majority of Independent Directors
The NYSE rules require that a majority of the board must consist of independent directors. Independence is defined by various criteria, including the absence of a material relationship between the director and the listed company. Under the listing standards of Level 2 segment of B3, our board of directors must have at least five members, at least 20% of which must be independent. Also, Brazilian corporate law and the CVM have established rules that require directors to meet certain qualification requirements and that address the compensation and duties and responsibilities of, as well as the restrictions applicable to, a company’s executive officers and directors. While our directors meet the qualification requirements of Brazilian corporate law and the CVM, we do not believe that a majority of our directors would be considered independent under the NYSE test for director independence. Brazilian corporate law requires that our directors be elected by our shareholders at a shareholders’ meeting.
NYSE rules require that the non-management directors must meet at regularly scheduled executive sessions without management present. Brazilian corporate law does not have a similar provision. According to Brazilian corporate law, up to one-third of the members of the board of directors can be elected to officer positions. Our Chairman, David Neeleman, is a member of our board of directors. As a result, the non-management directors on our board do not typically meet in executive session.
Nominating committee, corporate governance committee and compensation committee
NYSE rules require that listed companies have a nominating/corporate governance committee and a compensation committee composed entirely of independent directors and governed by a written charter addressing the committee’s required purpose and detailing its required responsibilities—although as a company the majority of whose voting shares are held by another group, we would not be required to comply with this rule. The responsibilities of the nominating/corporate governance committee include, among other things, identifying and selecting qualified board member nominees and developing a set of corporate governance principles applicable to the company. The responsibilities of the compensation committee, in turn, include, among other things, reviewing corporate goals relevant to the chief executive officer’s compensation, evaluating the chief executive officer’s performance, approving the chief executive officer’s compensation levels and recommending to the board compensation of other executive officers, incentive compensation and equity-based plans.
We are not required under applicable Brazilian corporate law to have a nominating committee, corporate governance committee and compensation committee. Aggregate compensation for our directors and executive officers is established by our common and preferred shareholders at annual shareholders’ meetings, and our directors at board of directors’ meeting are required to determine the allocation of the aggregate compensation among their members and the officers.
Audit Committee and Audit Committee Additional Requirements
NYSE rules require that listed companies have an audit committee that:
- Is composed of a minimum of three independent directors who are all financially literate;
- Meets the SEC rules regarding audit committees for listed companies;
- Has at least one member who has accounting or financial management expertise,
- Is governed by a written charter addressing the committee’s required purpose and detailing its required responsibilities.
The audit committee is elected by the board of directors.
Shareholder Approval of Equity Compensation Plans
NYSE rules require that shareholders be given the opportunity to vote on all equity compensation plans and material revisions to those plans (which may be approved for an undefined period), with limited exceptions. Under Brazilian corporate law, all stock option plans must be submitted for approval by the holders of our common shares. In addition, any issuance of new shares that exceeds our authorized share capital is subject to approval by holders of our common shares at a shareholders’ meeting.
Corporate Governance Guidelines
NYSE rules require that listed companies adopt and disclose corporate governance guidelines. We comply with the corporate governance guidelines under applicable Brazilian law and the Level 2 segment of B3. We believe the corporate governance guidelines applicable to us under Brazilian law are consistent with the NYSE guidelines. We have adopted and observe the Policy of Material Fact Disclosure, which deals with the public disclosure of all relevant information as per CVM’s Instruction No. 358 guidelines, and the Policy on Trading of Securities, which requires management to disclose all transactions relating to our securities, and which is required under Level 2 segment of B3.
Code of Business Conduct and Ethics
NYSE rules require that listed companies adopt and disclose a code of business conduct and ethics for directors, officers and employees, and promptly disclose any waivers of the code for directors or executive officers. Level 2 segment of B3 hasa similar requirement.
We adopted a code of business conduct and ethics in May 2009, which regulates the conduct of our managers in connection with the disclosure and control of financial and accounting information and their access to privileged and non-public information. Our code of business conduct and ethics complies with the requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, the NYSE rules and Level 2 segment of B3 rules.
Internal Audit Function
NYSE rules require that listed companies maintain an internal audit function to provide management and the audit committee with ongoing assessments of the company’s risk management processes and system of internal control.
Our internal auditing department works independently to conduct methodologically structured examinations, analysis, surveys and fact finding to evaluate the integrity, adequacy, effectiveness, efficiency and economy of the information systems processes and internal controls related to our risk management. The internal auditing department reports continually to our board of directors and audit committee and its activities are directly supervised by our audit committee, which acts under our board of directors, and is monitored by our audit and operational risk management superior committee. In carrying out its duties, the internal auditing department has access to all documents, records, systems, locations and people involved with the activities under review.
Level 2 Segment of B3
Our securities are listed on the Level 2 segment of B3, a special listing segment intended exclusively for companies that meet minimum requirements and accept to be subject to differentiated corporate governance rules. To become a Level 2 segment of B3 company, in addition to the obligations imposed by applicable law, an issuer must comply with the following rules:
- Ensure that shares of the issuer representing at least 25% of its total capital are effectively available for trading,
- Adopt offering procedures that favor widespread ownership of shares whenever making a public offering, including guaranteed access to all prospective investors, or the allocation of at least 10% of the total offer to individuals or non-institutional investors,
- Comply with additional quarterly disclosure standards, such as disclosing related party transactions to the same level as required by the accounting standards used in the preparation of annual financial statements,
- Follow stricter disclosure policies with respect to transactions made by controlling shareholders, members of its board of directors, its executive officers and, if applicable, members of its fiscal council and other technical or consulting committees involving securities issued by the issuer,
- Submit any existing shareholders’ agreement and stock option plans to the B3,
- Make a schedule of corporate events available to shareholders,
- Grant tag-along rights for all shareholders in connection with a transfer of control of the company offering the same price paid per share of controlling block for each common share and preferred share,
- Grant voting rights to holders of preferred shares, at least in connection with the following matters: transformation, merger, consolidation or spin-off of the Company; execution of any agreement between the Company and its controlling shareholder, acting directly or through any third party, in the event such agreement must be approved by a shareholders’ meeting, as provided by law or in the bylaws of the Company; valuation of assets to be contributed to the capital stock of the Company in a capital increase; appointment of the valuation company or institution that will determine the economic value of the Company; and amendments or exclusions of bylaw provisions which eliminate or modify any of the matters above,
- Have a board of directors consisting of at least five members out of which a minimum of 20% of the directors must be independent and limit the term of all members to two years, reelection permitted,
- Not name the same individual for being both chairman of the board and the president, chief executive officer or other principal executive,
- Translate into English its annual and quarterly consolidated and unconsolidated financial statements,
- If it elects to delist from the Level 2 segment of B3, conduct a tender offer by the company’s controlling shareholder,
- Adhere exclusively to the Market Arbitration Chamber for resolution of disputes between the company and its investors,
- Adopt and publish a code of conduct that establishes the principles and values that guide the company.
Brazilian Takeover Panel (CAF)
On January 21, 2014, we entered into an agreement to adhere to the Panel Code issued by CAF, a non-statutory non-for-profit entity organized under private law for the purpose of organizing, maintaining and administering the CAF. Our Company, shareholders, directors, fiscal council members and members of any other entity with technical or consultative functions created by statutory provision will have to respect the principles and rules of the Panel Code and comply with the decisions that may be taken by CAF under the Panel Code in respect of all tender offers, takeovers, stock takeovers, mergers or spin-offs in connection with a takeover.
The rights of any shareholder who fails to comply with the Panel Code may be suspended pursuant to a decision of the shareholders at the Annual General Meeting, including the right of the non-compliant shareholder to vote.