Assembly of delegates

Detailed report on the Assembly of Delegates on August 24.

Anyone who, as an outsider, reads the headlines and symbolic terms that appeared in newspapers, magazines and on the Internet in connection with the most recent assembly of delegates can roughly imagine how "historic" the meeting of delegates on August 24 in the Niedersachsenhalle was. Historical for various reasons: The external circumstances alone in the middle of a pandemic and under considerable security precautions were absolutely unusual. The approximately 150 delegates, previous members of the board, candidates for new offices and listeners were distributed in the wide circle of the Niedersachsenhalle while maintaining safety distances. The atmosphere therefore remained somewhat undercooled, which was not exclusively but mainly due to the Corona pandemic.


On the same day and the next few days, one could read " spirit of new beginnings", "new start" and "no more business as ususal" in articles about the meeting, which - also historically - set a new time record: It took a total of nine and a half hours before the meeting could be concluded. Between 12 noon and 9:30 p.m. in the advanced evening, there was indeed something like setting the course for a new start and a spirit of new beginnings. And - who wanted to - could actually feel a sense of new beginnings.
After the same delegates had already passed the structural reform in February with a clear majority, it was now, almost exactly six months later to the day, to fill this reform and its new bodies with people. And the delegates were apparently very well prepared for this task. For the desire for a personnel renewal was a recurring theme in all the ballots. In the end, only three previous board members succeeded in being elected to a new body. 18 honorary positions had to be filled in the Presidium, Supervisory Board, breeding committees and Good Governance.


The election of the offices was eagerly awaited, which will probably be the most important in the future: Presidium and Supervisory Board. Four candidates applied for the chairmanship of the Presidium and three of the Supervisory Board. And although the election process took around five hours that day, due to the fact that each candidate was given the opportunity to introduce himself to the delegates immediately before the election, the positions of President and Chairman of the Supervisory Board were filled in the first ballot.


88 delegates voted for Dr. Hinni Lührs-Behnke from Verden, who thus received over 55 percent of the votes. Frank Rost received 31 percent of the votes, Christopher Kröckel 13 and Mathias Schulze six delegates. The future president was warmly greeted with applause, thanked for the trust and also found the right words when he described "the horse as soul" and "the breeders as the highest good" of the association.


There were very different results when it came to filling the other presidium positions: Harald Thelker won with 85 votes against Jörn Wedermann (65) for the responsibility for loyalty to / of breeders. Both were members of the previous board of directors, so it was clear that there will be a certain continuity of personnel in the sense of the structural reform. Matthias Klatt dominated the dressage field of responsibility and left Jörn Wedermann behind. The jumping section in the Presidium is represented by Hergen Forkert, who achieved the best result with 88 percent of the votes. Dieter Meyer was clearly ahead of Harm Kleemeyer (57) with 94 votes. Carsten Leopold, who also received 94 votes, will be responsible for Finance, Personnel and Legal Affairs.


The 48-year-old management consultant Ernestine Zwingmann caused a big surprise in the election of the chair of the supervisory board. Having started the race as an outsider against Johann von der Decken and Franz Bürmann, the delegates sensed something of a sensation in the air even during her "saucy" application speech. When she ended her speech with the remark that whoever wanted a "continue as before" should vote for one of her two charming competitors, but whoever wanted something new had to vote for her, she received a strong applause - a strong indication that the election was at least open.


After his application speech, Johann von der Decken was confronted by a member of the previous board who said that he could hardly become chairman of the supervisory board because the acting board had not been discharged (see below). Franz Bürmann - also from a former member of the Board of Management - was brought into close proximity with the resigned Chairman Hans Henning von der Decken as the closest advisor. Johann von der Decken achieved 14 votes in the election for the office of Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Franz Bürmann received 50 votes, Ernestine Zwingmann immediately achieved an absolute majority of 87 votes. In eight further ballots, four additional Supervisory Board members were elected: Matthias Bug, Hendrik Hüsker, Matthias Grupe and Achim Schacke.


A motion by Dr Rudolf Drünert to abolish the age limit seemed to be successful at first, as there was a majority in favor.However, since the age limit can only be changed by a two-thirds majority in the statutes, the limit of 66 years remained. Although 87 delegates voted under the sounds of the famous song by Udo Jürgens "At 66 years of age, that's when life begins" for a change to the statutes, this was not the required two-thirds majority. But before the electoral men and women were able to fulfill their time-consuming task, very important regulations were on the agenda. Managing director Wilken Treu presented the balance sheet, which came to a result of 8.18 million Euro and a profit of 846 Euro. The auction result was four percent below that of the previous year. Looking ahead to the current year, Treu explained that despite the pandemic, online auctions were able to "compensate for a lot". With regard to finances, he also pointed out some special effects - such as the significant increase in legal consulting costs from an average of 60,000 Euro to 180,000 Euro in 2019. In addition, a one-time value adjustment of 154,000 Euro had been made at Pferd Event GmbH to correct the losses of the past years. As a result of this loss absorption, Pferd Event is now being given five years to fill the big tournament and the newly built racetrack with life in such a way that it will be a success and no longer incur any significant losses in economic terms. On the subject of wolves, Wilken Treu demanded legal changes in the sense that targeted killings should be easier to make in the future.


The managing director also addressed a letter from the association's employees, which was read out at the recent board meeting. In it it was about the dismay that an unnecessary negative publicity was stirred up, many members expressed themselves uncomprehendingly to the coworkers regarding these occurrences and the developed "suction downwards" pressed absolutely on the motivation and the pride to work for the Hannoveraner Verband. Above all the coworkers showed in the letter also their lack of understanding over the fact that one is disappointed exactly in the point, which is expected of them, "i.e. discretion", recurringly by the mandate carriers. This situation was getting on their nerves, they said, as it had been dragging on for more than a year and the positive effect of the structural reform had not yet brought about a turnaround.


If these sentences already more than clearly marked the serious state in which the association found itself through the events of the past one and a half years, the statements of the auditors caused further reflection - but also irritation. Eberhard vom Brocke criticized the board of directors, the last two chairmen and the dismissed managing director. Using the example of the Iran business, he claimed to have established "self-importance and ignorance" and the "disregard of the auction conditions". It was also about fee discounts and special conditions. Vom Brocke called for "courage for change", especially "in personnel matters". A "Business-as-usual" would mean stagnation. "What good are resolutions if decision-makers do not adhere to them and do not even have to fear consequences," said the auditor, who urgently advised not to discharge the board and management.


Things became confusing when the second auditor, Burchard Schröder, came to a different conclusion. He did not agree with the wording, attacks and hostility of his fellow auditor. He praised and respected the entire Hanoverian team for the "respectable result" in the past audit year. The Iran business had been concluded with a settlement in which the association finally waived 52,000 euros, plus some 20,000 euros in legal costs. As a reminder, the total volume of business with Iran was around 750,000 euros. Schröder recommended that the actions of the board of directors and management be approved. Auditor Dr Hartwig Meyer from the consulting firm Gräwe & Partner (Bremen) approached the topic of discharge from a different angle. Through him, the controversial subject of the stallion Dario was brought up, which is closely related to the dismissal of D. Schade and the resignation of Hans Henning von der Decken. Dr Meyer spoke about ongoing legal disputes and possible claims for damages. While there were no provisions for this case due to a lawyer's confirmation for 2019, the auditor - also due to a judgement from Denmark, which ordered the Hanoverian Association to pay a good 100,000 Euro - came to the conclusion that there would have to be a revaluation, i.e. a provision, for 2020 with regard to an impact on value, as there was a considerable risk. When asked, Dr Hartwig Meyer explained that failure to provide discharge would result in the claims for damages being maintained internally and the new bodies would thus be given a quasi audit mandate - with the possibility of being able to settle the claims. In plain language: It is to be examined whether not the Verband would have to bear the damage, but rather the then responsible board members and the managing director.


Due to legal advice, the discharge of the management was split. For the period from January 1 to May 13, 2019, the day of his dismissal, Dr Werner Schade was not discharged. Dr Henrik von der Ahe and Wilken Treu, who only took office on December 1, 2019, were discharged. The Board was not discharged for the entire 2019 fiscal year (72 no, 65 yes votes, twelve abstentions).


At an advanced hour, the other new bodies, the Dressage, Jumping and Eventing Breeding Committees as well as the office of the Good Governance Officer, also had to be filled. Elected were: Stefan Blanken and Anja Rietbrock (dressage), Heide Peters and Oliver Ross (show jumping), Ulrike Edel-Heidhues and Iris Schless (eventing) as well as Norbert Bramlage as Good Governance Officer.  In the next issue of DER HANNOVERANER the breeding committees will be presented in more detail and their main topics will be discussed.

Author: Rolf Hillmann