The GfK Group expanded its network in North America at the start of 2009 with the acquisition of a majority holding in the American company Etilize and increase in its shareholding in DmrKynetec at the start of February 2009. Over the course of the year, GfK increased its holding in the French company IFR from 24.2% to 100%.
The conversion of GfK AG to a Societas Europaea, or European Company, was completed on February 2, 2009. Through this change in legal form, GfK is taking greater account of its increasingly international direction. An SE is a supranational legal entity formed under European law, which corresponds to the GfK Group’s understanding of itself and further underpins its international perspectives and structure.
The SE particularly promotes the further development of GfK’s international corporate culture. This offers all employees and their representatives the chance of European involvement. In future, through their elected representatives on the SE Employee Council, all employees in the EU Member States and the European Economic Area will be able to receive information direct from the management of GfK SE and enter into a structured dialog on transnational issues. At the centre of this dialog are the employees, as through their motivation and commitment they make a lasting commitment to the success of the company. Furthermore, the interests of all European employees covered by the scope of the agreement on employee representation are represented on the Supervisory Board of GfK SE.
This agreement is not only intended to lead to a structured dialog between GfK SE and the European employee representatives but also international cooperation among the European employee representatives themselves. The aim is to have a European dialog between the management of GfK SE and the employee representatives as well as the representative inclusion of the European employees.
From the date of registration of GfK SE until the Annual General Meeting on May 20, 2009, the following employees were appointed as the employee representatives on the Supervisory Board: Dieter Wilbois, GfK AG, already a member of the Supervisory Board, Stephan Lindeman, Intomart GfK and Shani Orchard, GfK Retail and Technology UK.
In March 2009, GfK started the placement of a second loan note amounting to a minimum of EUR 50 million with a term of three years. In advance of the issue of the loan note, on March 9, 2009, GfK obtained bridging finance for the same amount until the end of the year at most from the lead bank.