The Cuatrecasas Foundation has awarded the Manuel Olivencia Award for Good Corporate Governance, which acknowledges the best corporate governance practices by Spanish listed companies, to Inditex (Industria de Diseño Textil, SA). The awards ceremony was held on Thursday, February 18 via streaming from Madrid’s Palacio de la Bolsa; present at the ceremony were Teresa Ribera Rodríguez, fourth deputy prime minister and minister for the ecological transition and the demographic challenge; Pablo Isla, chair of Inditex; and Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, partner at Cuatrecasas and former deputy prime minister of the Spanish government, who is a member of the award’s panel.
Pablo Isla explained that, since the outbreak of the pandemic, Inditex was very clear about its priorities: “To support the suppliers and make all our logistic capacity available to help out with the health emergency. We were able to do this thanks to our team's commitment and to our heavy investment in the latest technologies.” He also highlighted the company’s commitment to sustainability.
Teresa Ribera Rodríguez, fourth deputy prime minister and minister for the ecological transition and the demographic challenge, said that Inditex had acted “extraordinarily” in times of high uncertainty and difficulty: “It rose to the occasion both for its team and for society.”
Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, a member of the award’s panel, and partner at Cuatrecasas and former deputy prime minister of the Spanish government, stated that true leadership must go beyond the pandemic: “Companies’ governing bodies and leadership are put to the test during pandemics, and companies have adapted in record time. The best corporate governance is one capable of anticipating and managing crises. Also, we must not forget that investors bear in mind climate change, the new technologies and sustainability.
In this third edition of the Manuel Olivencia Award, the panel assessed aspects uniquely related to good governance during the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, while also monitoring other governance practices aimed at promoting sound, transparent and sustainable corporate management. To grant the award, the panel analyzed factors, such as (i) the level and quality of Inditex information transparency over these last few months, (ii) the necessary adaptation of general shareholders meetings to the exceptional circumstances (facilitating the comprehensive participation and exercise of the shareholders’ other voting rights), (iii) remuneration adjustment of members of the board and shareholders, and (iv) attention to its employees’ needs. All these aspects were coordinated while developing an ambitious policy of corporate social responsibility. Also, the company has a sound corporate governance structure in which the level of independence and diversity of the board of directors, and the separation of the positions of chair and CEO, stand out.
The award granted by the Cuatrecasas Foundation honors the memory of the late Manuel Olivencia, a professor of commercial law at the University of Seville, vice chair of Cuatrecasas and chair of the committee that drafted the first Spanish Code of Corporate Governance in 1998, known as the Olivencia Code.
Inditex is one of the world’s largest fashion retailer groups. It has 7,469 stores in 96 markets and sells in 202 markets, 66 of which have their own online platform.
It has eight store types: Zara, Pull&Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Stradivarius, Oysho,
Zara Home and Uterqüe. The group also includes companies linked to the different activities that form part of the business for designing, manufacturing and distributing textiles.
Its sustainable and integrated business model of physical and online stores, based on innovation and flexibility, and its way of understanding fashion—quality design and creativity—together with a response tailored to market demands have enabled its rapid international expansion and an excellent acceptance of its different commercial concepts, both in stores and online.
The first Zara store opened its doors to the public in 1975 in A Coruña (in northwest Spain), where the group started its activity and where it is headquartered.
Today, there are stores from the Inditex group in hundreds of cities on the five continents, mainly on the most important shopping streets.
Inditex is listed on the stock market since May 23, 2001, after an initial public offering of shares that elicited great interest from investors worldwide, with demand being 26 times higher than the volume of supply.
The shares are included in the main Spanish and international stock markets.
About the Manuel Olivencia Award panel of judges
The panel is made up of 15 members, all well-known and highly recognized individuals in Spain’s business and legal spheres. It is chaired by Matías Rodríguez Inciarte, who is also chair of Santander Universities, holds a Bachelor of Economics by the Complutense University of Madrid and is a member of the Body of Commercial Technicians and State Economists.
The members of the panel are as follows: Juan Arena, former chair of Bankinter and member of the board of Meliá Hotels International; Francisco Ballester, honorary partner at Cuatrecasas; Jaime Caruana, former governor of Banco de España and member of the board of BBVA; Eva Castillo, former chair of Telefónica Europa and Merrill Lynch Spain and Portugal, and member of the boards of Bankia and Zardoya Otis; Óscar Fanjul, vice chair of LafargeHolcim and Ferrovial; Rosa María García, independent member of the board of Mapfre; Cristina Garmendia, chair of the Cotec Foundation; Ignacio Gil-Casares, external proprietary director of Merlin Properties and member of the appointments and remuneration committees; Luis Isasi, chair of Santander Spain and senior advisor at Morgan Stanley; Consuelo Madrigal, former attorney general; Francisco Pérez-Crespo, partner at Cuatrecasas; Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, partner at Cuatrecasas and former deputy prime minister of Spain; Alfonso Sánchez-Tabernero, dean of the University of Navarra; and Antonio Zoido, chair of Bolsas y Mercados Españoles (the Spanish company dealing with the organizational aspects of the Spanish stock exchanges and financial markets) and chair of the Madrid stock exchange. Rafael Hidalgo, counsel at Cuatrecasas, is non-member secretary, and Juan Aguayo, partner at Cuatrecasas, is the award’s director.
About previous years’ awards
In just a few years, the award has become a reference point for the recognition of corporate governance best practices by listed companies in Spain. In its previous editions (2018 and 2019), the Manuel Olivencia Award for Good Corporate Governance was awarded to the International Airlines Group (IAG) and to Amadeus IT Group.
In both cases, the panel highlighted the composition of their boards of directors, which have an ample majority of independent directors, including their chairs. The panel also valued their investor relation policies, the duration of the directors’ term of office (the directors are subject to yearly voting by the shareholders meeting), the selection and training policies for the directors, and the transparency in remuneration matters.
About Manuel Olivencia
Manuel Olivencia was an accomplished lawyer who combined the vocation of teaching from his chair of commercial law with the desire to share knowledge from his professional work in Cuatrecasas, as a partner of the firm. His impressive professional curriculum as a lawyer, university professor, undersecretary of education, commissioner of the Expo 92 in Seville and chair of the commission that drafted the Olivencia Code, is complemented by his personal trajectory and the indelible memories he left his family, friends, students, colleagues and everyone who knew and interacted with him.
He accumulated many awards and acknowledgments throughout his life, both in Spain and abroad, and was a very cosmopolitan man that studied and lived in different countries. Manuel Olivencia received many awards, including several Spanish Grand Crosses, such as the Civil Order of Alfonso X the Wise, the Royal Order of Isabella the Catholic, the Cross of Military Merit, the Cross of Saint Raymond of Penyafort and the Cross of St. George of Catalonia. He was named Favorite Son of Ronda and Adopted Son of Seville, and received the Gold Medal of Ceuta, where he spent part of his childhood.
About the Cuatrecasas Foundation
The Cuatrecasas Foundation, created in 1991, focuses its activity on projects relating to rule of law and access to justice in line with the United Nations Global Compact and the Sustainable Development Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions. The foundation’s flagship activities are the Manuel Olivencia Award for Good Corporate Governance and the creation of the Spanish Pro Bono Foundation, a platform including a wide representation from the legal world to develop pro bono projects in Spain.