Summary of significant corporate governance differences from NYSE listing standards
InterContinental Hotels Group PLC, as a UK company listed on the London Stock Exchange, is committed to compliance with the principles of corporate governance and aims to follow the corporate governance practices specified in the UK Corporate Governance Code (the "Code") issued by the Financial Reporting Council in the United Kingdom. A report on our compliance with the Code as it applied for the year ended 31 December 2020 is given in our Annual Report and Form 20-F which is available on this website.
IHG's shares are also listed on the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) in the form of American Depositary Shares. The Company has therefore adopted the corporate governance requirements of the US Sarbanes-Oxley Act and related rules and of the NYSE, to the extent that they are applicable to it as a foreign private issuer. As a foreign private issuer, IHG is required to disclose any significant ways in which its corporate governance practices differ from those followed by US companies. These are as follows:
Basis of regulation
The Code contains a series of principles and provisions. It is not, however, mandatory for companies to follow these principles. Instead, companies must disclose how they have applied them and disclose, if applicable, any areas of non-compliance along with an explanation for the non-compliance. In contrast, US companies listed on the NYSE are required to adopt and disclose corporate governance guidelines adopted by the NYSE.
The Code's principles recommend that at least half the Board, excluding the Chair, should consist of independent non-executive Directors. As at 22 February 2021, the Board consisted of the Chair, independent at the time of his appointment, three Executive Directors and nine independent Non-Executive Directors. NYSE listing rules applicable to US companies state that companies must have a majority of independent directors. The NYSE set out six bright line tests for director independence. The Board's judgment is that all of its Non-Executive Directors are independent. However, it did not explicitly take into consideration the NYSE's tests in reaching this determination.
Chair and Chief Executive Officer
The Code recommends that the Chair and Chief Executive Officer should not be the same individual to ensure that there is a clear division of responsibility for the running of the Company's business. There is no corresponding requirement for US companies. The roles of Chair and Chief Executive Officer were, as at 22 February 2021 and throughout 2020, fulfilled by separate individuals.
The Company has a number of Board Committees which are similar in purpose and constitution to those required for domestic companies under NYSE rules. The NYSE requires US companies to have audit, remuneration and nominating/corporate governance committees composed entirely of independent directors, as defined under the NYSE rules. The Company’s Nomination, Audit and Remuneration Committees consist entirely of Non-Executive Directors who are independent under the standards of the Code, which may not necessarily be the same as the NYSE independence standards. The nominating/governance committee is responsible for identifying individuals qualified to become Board members and to recommend to the Board a set of corporate governance principles. As the Company is subject to the Code, the Company’s Nomination Committee is responsible for nominating, for approval by the Board, candidates for appointment to the Board, although it also assists in developing the role of the Senior Independent Non-Executive Director. The Company’s Nomination Committee consists of the Chair and independent Non-Executive Directors.
The Chair of the Company is not a member of either the Remuneration or Audit Committees. As set out on page 86 of the 2020 Annual Report, the Audit Committee is chaired by an independent Non-Executive Director who, in the Board’s view, has the experience and qualifications to satisfy the criterion under US rules for an ‘audit committee financial expert’.
Non-executive director meetings
NYSE rules require that non-management Directors of US companies must meet on a regular basis without management present, and independent directors must meet separately at least once per year. The Code recommends: (i) the Board Chair to hold meetings with the Non-Executive Directors without the Executive Directors present; and (ii) the Non-Executive Directors to meet at least annually without the Chair present to appraise the Chair's performance. The Company's Non-Executive Directors have met frequently without Executive Directors being present, and intend to continue this practice after every Board meeting if possible.
Shareholder approval of Equity Compensation Plans
The NYSE rules require that shareholders must be given the opportunity to vote on all equity compensation plans and material revisions to those plans. The Company complies with UK requirements which are similar to the NYSE rules. The Board does not, however, explicitly take into consideration the NYSE's detailed definition of “material revisions”.
Code of conduct
The NYSE requires companies to adopt a code of business conduct and ethics, applicable to Directors, officers and employees. Any waivers granted to Directors or officers under such a code must be promptly disclosed. As set out on page 220 of the 2020 Annual Report and Form 20-F, IHG’s Code of Conduct is applicable to all Directors, officers and employees, and is available on this website. No waivers have been granted under the Code of Conduct.
Each chief executive of a US company must certify to the NYSE each year that he or she is not aware of any violation by the Company of any NYSE corporate governance listing standard. As the Company is a foreign private issuer, the Company's Chief Executive Officer is not required to make this certification. However, he is required to notify the NYSE promptly in writing after any of the Company's executive officers become aware of any non-compliance with those NYSE corporate governance rules applicable to the Company.
Further information on IHG's corporate governance practices can be found in the Governance Report (pages 74 to 111).