During the business year 2022/23, the Supervisory Board fulfilled its responsibilities under the law and the Articles of Association, holding six plenary sessions, three meetings of the Audit Committee, and six meetings of the General Committee.
In both the General Committee and the Audit Committee meetings, the Management Board provided comprehensive verbal and written information on the development of the company’s business as well as its position and financial management.
In addition to the regular reports on the Group’s current business and financial position, the meetings of the Supervisory Board dealt especially with matters related to sustainability, innovation, and information technology—all of which will determine the future. Preparations for the first steps toward decarbonizing the company’s plants in Linz and Donawitz (both in Austria) undoubtedly took center stage in these discussions during the business year just ended. Already in March 2022, the Supervisory Board gave its approval to carry out the preliminary work needed for climate-friendly steel production in Austria. In March 2023, it approved the next step in this process: With an investment volume of some EUR 1.5 billion, an electric arc furnace is to be built at each of the two sites, replacing two of the five blast furnaces currently in use. According to the greentec steel project plan, decisions regarding facilities and suppliers will be made before the end of 2023, construction will start in 2024, and both units will be commissioned in 2027. From then on, the Group will be cutting up to 30% of its current CO2 emissions. This equates to about 5% of Austria’s overall annual CO2 emissions, making the project the country’s largest singular undertaking in terms of climate action. voestalpine’s long-term aim is to pave the way for carbon-neutral steel production. To achieve this goal by 2050 at the latest, the Group is already researching several new processes, and investing in pilot projects exploring alternative pathways in steel production. These include research projects such as the H2FUTURE hydrogen pilot facility at the Linz plant for manufacturing and using “green” hydrogen on an industrial scale, as well as the testing facilities at the Donawitz plant for carbon-neutral steel production based on direct reduction of iron ore using hydrogen. Yet more research projects focus on storing and reusing unavoidable residual emissions.
Another key Group project in terms of both innovation and sustainability is the construction of the new stainless steel plant in Kapfenberg, which entered its final phase in the past business year with the successful start of commissioning.
The Supervisory Board also dealt with issues such as the security of the voestalpine Group’s supplies of raw materials and energy in the long term, particularly in light of new decarbonization technologies, and a wholly integrated circular economy approach to establishing expanded material cycles.
The General Committee addressed, in addition to questions of compensation, above all the procedures for filling positions on the Management Board after the current term expires in March 2024, as well as preparatory work for the election of the new Supervisory Board at the 2024 Annual General Meeting.
The Audit Committee concerned itself chiefly with the preparation and review of voestalpine AG’s Consolidated and Annual Financial Statements, the auditor’s independence, and topics related to the current and future structure of the internal control system, the risk management system, and Internal Audit.
The auditor of Deloitte Audit Wirtschaftsprüfungs GmbH attended all three meetings of the Audit Committee in the business year 2022/23 and was available for questions and discussions.
At its meeting on March 21, 2023, the Supervisory Board also carried out the self-evaluation required under Rule 36 of the Code and, after asking the Management Board to leave the room, used a list of questions to address the general cooperation between the Management Board and the Supervisory Board, the quality and scope of the documents made available to the Supervisory Board, and organizational issues.