(1) Each of the Audit Committee, Compensation Committee, Nominating and Governance Committee, and M&A and Finance Committee is comprised of 100% independent directors. We added our CEO to the Government Relations Committee as we believe his experience with our customers and markets adds value to the Committee.
The Board of Directors has determined that a majority of the members of the Board should consist of “independent directors,” determined in accordance with the applicable listing standards of the NASDAQ Global Select Market as in effect from time to time. Directors who are also Mercury employees are not considered to be independent for this purpose. For a non-employee director to be considered independent, he or she must not have any direct or indirect material relationship with Mercury. A material relationship is one which, in the opinion of the Board, would interfere with the exercise of independent judgment in carrying out the responsibilities of a director. In determining whether a material relationship exists, the Board considers, among other things, the circumstances of any direct compensation received by a director or a member of a director’s immediate family from Mercury, any professional relationship between a director or a member of a director’s immediate family and Mercury’s outside auditors, any participation by a Mercury executive officer in the compensation decisions of other companies employing a director or a member of a director’s immediate family as an executive officer, and commercial relationships between Mercury and other entities with which a director is affiliated (as an executive officer, partner, or controlling shareholder). The Board has determined that directors who serve on the Audit Committee must qualify as independent under the applicable rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), which limit the types of compensation an Audit Committee member may receive directly or indirectly from Mercury and require that Audit Committee members not be “affiliated persons” of Mercury or its subsidiaries. In addition, the Board of Directors has determined that directors who serve on the Compensation Committee must satisfy the standards for being considered a “non-employee director” within the meaning of Securities and Exchange Commission Rule 16b-3 and an “outside director” for purposes of Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Consistent with these considerations, the Board has determined that all of the members of the Board are independent directors, except Mr. Aslett, who is Mercury's President and Chief Executive Officer.
Board Nomination Selection
Our Nominating and Governance Committee is responsible for identifying and recommending nominees for election to the Board. The Committee will consider nominees recommended by a shareholder if the shareholder submits the nomination in compliance with applicable requirements. The Committee did not receive any shareholder nominations for election of directors at this year’s meeting. With respect to the nominees for Class I director standing for election at the meeting, Messrs. Bass and Daniels were each most recently elected as a Class I director at the 2016 Annual Meeting of Shareholders and Ms. Disbrow was most recently elected as a Class I director at the 2017 Annual Meeting of Shareholders. With respect to the nominee for Class III director standing for election at the meeting, Mr. Nearhos was elected to the Board at a special Board of Directors meeting held on November 26, 2018.
When considering a potential candidate for membership on the Board, the Nominating and Governance Committee will consider any criteria it deems appropriate, including, among other things, the experience and qualifications of any particular candidate as well as such candidate’s past or anticipated contributions to the Board and its committees. At a minimum, each nominee is expected to have high personal and professional integrity and demonstrated ability and judgment, and to be effective, with the other directors, in collectively serving the long-term interests of our shareholders. In addition to these minimum qualifications, when considering potential candidates for the Board, the Committee seeks to ensure that the Board is comprised of a majority of independent directors and that the committees of the Board, other than the Government Relations Committee, are comprised entirely of independent directors. The Nominating and Governance Committee may also consider any other standards that it deems appropriate, including whether a potential candidate has direct experience in our industry and whether such candidate, if elected, would assist in achieving a mix of directors that represents a diversity of backgrounds and experiences. In practice, the Committee generally will evaluate and consider all candidates recommended by our directors, officers, and shareholders. The Committee intends to consider shareholder recommendations for directors using the same criteria that would be used with potential nominees recommended by members of the Committee or others.
Shareholders who wish to submit director candidates for consideration should send such recommendations to our Secretary at our executive offices not less than, unless a lesser time period is required by applicable law, 120 days nor more than 150 days prior to the anniversary date of the immediately preceding annual meeting of stockholders or special meeting in lieu of an annual meeting. Such recommendations must include the following information as to each person whom the shareholder proposes to nominate for election or reelection as a director:
- the name and address of the shareholder and each of his or her nominees;
- a description of all arrangements or understandings between the shareholder and each such nominee;
- such other information as would be required to be included in a proxy statement soliciting proxies for the election of the nominees of such shareholder; and
- the consent of each nominee to serve as a Director if so elected.
In addition, such recommendations must include the following information as to each shareholder giving the notice:
- the number of all shares of Mercury stock held of record, owned beneficially (directly or indirectly) and represented by proxy by such shareholder as of the date of such notice and as of one year prior to the date of such notice;
- a description of all arrangements or understandings between such shareholder and each nominee and any other person or persons (naming such person or persons) pursuant to which the nomination or nominations are to be made by such shareholder;
- a description of any derivative position held or beneficially held (directly or indirectly) by such shareholder with respect to Mercury stock;
- a description of any proxy, contract, arrangement, understanding, or relationship between such shareholder and any other person or persons (including their names and addresses) in connection with the nomination or nominations to be made by such shareholder or pursuant to which such shareholder has a right to vote any Mercury stock; and
- a description of any proportionate interest in Mercury stock or derivative positions with respect to Mercury held, directly or indirectly, by a general or limited partnership in which such shareholder is a general partner or, directly or indirectly, beneficially owns an interest in such a general partner.
We may require any proposed nominee to furnish such other information as may reasonably be required by us to determine the eligibility of such proposed nominee to serve as a director. Shareholders must also submit any other information regarding the proposed director candidate that is required to be included in a proxy statement filed pursuant to SEC rules.
Communicating with Mercury Directors
Shareholders who wish to communicate with the Board or with a particular director may send a letter to Mercury Systems, Inc., 50 Minuteman Road, Andover, Massachusetts 01810, attention: Secretary. The mailing envelope should contain a clear notation that the enclosed letter is a “Shareholder-Board Communication” or “Shareholder-Director Communication.” All such letters should clearly state whether the intended recipients are all members of the Board or certain specified individual directors. Our Secretary will make copies of all such letters and circulate them to the appropriate director or directors.
The Board of Directors has standing Audit, Compensation, Nominating and Governance, M&A and Finance, and Government Relations Committees. As described above under the heading “Independence,” all of the members of the Audit, Compensation, Nominating and Governance, and M&A and Finance Committees are deemed to be independent directors. Each of our Board committees acts under a written charter, copies of which can be found under "Corporate Governance" on our Investor Relations page.
The Audit Committee assists the Board in its oversight of management’s conduct of our accounting and financial reporting processes, including by providing oversight with respect to the financial reports and other financial information provided by our systems of internal accounting and financial controls, and the annual audit of our financial statements. The Audit Committee also reviews the qualifications, independence, and performance of our independent registered public accounting firm, pre-approves all audit and non-audit services provided by such firm and its fees, and discusses with management and our independent registered public accounting firm the quality and adequacy of our internal control over
financial reporting. The Audit Committee is directly responsible for the appointment, compensation, retention, and oversight of the work of our independent registered public accounting firm, which reports directly to the Audit Committee. The Audit Committee also is responsible for reviewing and approving related-person transactions in accordance with our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics and the Audit Committee charter.
The Compensation Committee is responsible for:
- setting the compensation of our executive officers;
- reviewing and approving employment agreements, consulting arrangements, severance or retirement arrangements, and change-in-control arrangements or provisions covering any of our current or former executive officers;
- overseeing the administration of our equity-based and other long-term incentive plans;
- exercising any fiduciary, administrative, or other function assigned to the committee under any of our health, benefit, or welfare plans, including our 401(k) retirement savings plan;
- reviewing the compensation and benefits for non-employee directors and making recommendations for any changes to our Board; and
- overseeing the development and implementation of succession planning for our senior executives.
All of the independent directors on the Board annually review and approve our CEO’s corporate financial performance objectives, and evaluate the CEO’s performance in light of those goals and objectives. Based on the foregoing, the Compensation Committee sets the CEO’s compensation, including salary, target bonus, bonus and over-achievement payouts, and equity-based compensation, and any other special or supplemental benefits, which is then subject to ratification by a majority of the independent directors on our Board. Our CEO annually evaluates the contribution and performance of our other executive officers and provides input to the Compensation Committee, and the Compensation Committee sets their compensation. Our Senior Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer and the Compensation Committee’s independent compensation consultant also make recommendations to the Compensation Committee regarding compensation for our executives.
The Compensation Committee may delegate to the Chief Executive Officer, the Chief Financial Officer, the General Counsel, and the Chief Human Resources Officer the authority to grant equity awards under our 2018 Stock Incentive Plan to individuals who are not subject to the reporting and other requirements of Section 16 of the Exchange Act or “covered employees” within the meaning of Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”). The Compensation Committee may also delegate the administration of the health, benefit, and welfare plans within the scope of its oversight to our human resources and finance departments and to outside service providers, as appropriate.
The Compensation Committee’s independent compensation consultant provides input to the Compensation Committee regarding compensation for non-employee directors. The Compensation Committee then recommends any changes in the compensation and benefits for non-employee directors to the full Board for its consideration and approval.
The Compensation Committee is authorized to obtain advice and assistance from independent compensation consultants, outside legal counsel, and other advisors as it deems appropriate, at our expense. The Compensation Committee has engaged outside consultants, which has been Mercer since 2018, to assist the Committee in applying our compensation philosophy for our executive officers and non-employee directors, analyzing current compensation conditions in the marketplace generally and among our peers specifically, and assessing the competitiveness and appropriateness of compensation levels for our executive officers. Representatives of Mercer periodically attend meetings of the Compensation Committee, both with and without members of management present, and interact with members of our human resources department with respect to its assessment of the compensation for our executive officers. In addition, at the direction of the Compensation Committee, Mercer may assist management in analyzing the compensation of our non-executive employees. Mercer’s services also include providing compensation survey data for non-employee directors, executives, and non-executive employees.
Nominating and Governance Committee
The Nominating and Governance Committee assists the Board in identifying individuals qualified to become Board members, and recommends to the Board persons to be nominated for election as directors by the shareholders at the annual meeting of shareholders or by the Board to fill vacancies. The Committee has recommended the nominees for election at the annual meeting. In addition, the Committee oversees the process by which the Board and Committees each assesses its effectiveness as well as the individual director peer assessment process. The Committee also reviews our Board of Directors Policy and the charters for each of the Committees of the Board of Directors.
M&A and Finance Committee
The M&A and Finance Committee assists the Board in reviewing and assessing M&A transactions. The Committee is comprised of at least three members, all independent directors, as appointed by the Board. The Board has delegated to the Committee the authority to approve the acquisition or disposition of any other company, or any division, business unit or line of business of Mercury, for a purchase price of up to $25 million. The Committee also serves as the pricing committee for any of the Company's capital markets activities.
Government Relations Committee
The Government Relations Committee, consisting of three or more members as appointed by the Board, assists the Board with the following functions:
- identifying and evaluating global security, political, budgetary, regulatory and other issues, trends, opportunities, and challenges that could impact our business activities and performance;
- making recommendations to continue to raise our visibility in the marketplace and awareness of our commercial business model, as well as our products and capabilities; and
- making recommendations concerning our government relations activities, including our interactions with local, state and federal government on matters of impact to our business with the aim of enhancing our customer base.
In carrying out its duties and responsibilities, the Government Relations Committee has the authority to meet with and make inquiries of our employees as well as obtain advice and assistance from external advisors.
Stock Ownership Guidelines for Directors
Each non-employee director is expected to own or control, directly or indirectly, shares of the Company's common stock equal to five times the value of the annual director cash retainer within five years of first becoming a non-employee director, or within five years of April 22, 2014, whichever is later. Each non-employee director is expected to retain such investment in the Company as long as he or she is a non-employee director. Exceptions to this stock ownership guideline may be approved from time to time by the Board as it deems necessary to address individual circumstances.
Stock Ownership Guidelines and Holding Requirements for its CEO
The CEO is expected to own or control, directly or indirectly, shares of Mercury common stock with a value of at least five times the CEO’s base salary. The CEO is expected to meet this guideline within five years of first becoming CEO, or within five years of April 22, 2014, whichever is later, and is expected to retain such investment in the Company as long as he or she is the CEO. Prior to meeting the five times holding requirement per this guideline, after applicable tax withholding on the vesting of an equity award, the CEO is required to retain 50% of the net, after tax award until he or she is in compliance with the stock ownership guideline. Exceptions to this stock ownership guideline may be approved from time to time by the Board as it deems necessary to address individual circumstances. Mr. Aslett's holdings of our common stock satisfy the stock ownership guidelines.
Stock Ownership Guidelines and Holding Requirements for its Executives who Report to the CEO
Each of the executives who report directly to the CEO is expected to own or control, directly or indirectly, shares of the Mercury common stock with a value of at least three times the individual’s base salary. Each such executive is expected to meet this guideline within five years of first becoming a direct report to the CEO, or within five years of January 22, 2019, whichever is later. Each such executive is expected to retain such investment in the Company as long as he or she is a direct report to the CEO. Prior to meeting the three times holding requirement per this guideline, after applicable tax withholding on the vesting of an equity award, the executive is required to retain 50% of the net, after tax award until he or she is in compliance with the stock ownership guideline. Exceptions to this stock ownership guideline may be approved from time to time by the Board as it deems necessary to address individual circumstances. Each of our executive's holdings of our common stock satisfy the stock ownership guidelines.
Code of Business Conduct and Ethics
Mercury has adopted a Code of Business Conduct and Ethics applicable to our officers, directors, and employees. This code is posted on our “Investor Relations” page under “Corporate Governance”. We intend to satisfy our disclosure requirements regarding any amendment to, or waiver of, a provision of our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics by disclosing such matters on our website. Shareholders may request a copy of our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics free of charge by writing to Mercury Systems, Inc., 50 Minuteman Road, Andover, Massachusetts 01810, attention: Secretary.
Reporting of Accounting Concerns
Our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics includes a means for the anonymous reporting of any concerns about accounting, internal accounting controls, or auditing matters. Any employee, supplier, customer, shareholder, or other interested party can submit a report via the following anonymous methods:
- by telephone voicemail at 866-277-5739; or
- by submitting a complaint via the internet.
Governing Related-Person Transactions
Mercury adopted a written policy which provides for the review and approval by the Audit Committee of transactions involving Mercury in which a related person is known to have a direct or indirect interest and that are required to be reported under Item 404(a) of Regulation S-K promulgated by the SEC. For purposes of this policy, a related person includes: (1) any of our directors, director nominees, or executive officers; (2) any known beneficial owner of more than 5% of any class of our voting securities; or (3) any immediate family member of any of the foregoing. In situations where it is impractical to wait until the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Audit Committee or to convene a special meeting of the Committee, the Chair of the Committee has been delegated authority to review and approve related-person transactions. Transactions subject to this policy may be pursued only if the Audit Committee (or the Chair of the Committee acting pursuant to delegated authority) determines in good faith that, based on all the facts and circumstances available, the transactions are in, or are not inconsistent with, the best interests of Mercury and our shareholders.
Mercury Clawback Policy
Mercury has adopted a clawback policy applicable to our executive officers. This policy is posted on our “Investor Relations” page under “Corporate Governance”. Pursuant to our policy, the Board of Directors shall, in all appropriate circumstances, require reimbursement of any annual incentive payment or long-term incentive payment to an executive officer where: (1) the payment was predicated upon achieving certain financial results that were subsequently the subject of a substantial restatement of Company financial statements filed with the SEC; (2) the Board determines the executive engaged in intentional misconduct that caused or substantially caused the need for the substantial restatement; and (3) a lower payment would have been made to the executive based upon the restated financial results.
Mercury Short Sale and Hedging Policy
Pursuant to our insider trading policy, no employee, executive officer, or director may at any time sell any securities of Mercury that are not owned by such person at the time of the sale. Also, no such employee, executive officer, or director may buy or sell puts, calls, or other derivative securities of Mercury at any time. In addition, no such employee, executive officer, or director may hold Mercury securities in a brokerage margin account.
Corporate governance is a focus at Mercury. Our executive officers and the Board believe that shareholder engagement is an important component of our governance practices. We engage with shareholders on a variety of matters, such as corporate governance, executive compensation, and sustainability and have been responsive to the feedback provided by shareholders. Our shareholder engagement program is a year-round process that includes our annual investor day, our regular participation at investment conferences, and our engagement with shareholders on non-deal roadshows at which our executives regularly meet with shareholders.
Board of Directors Oversight of Risk
Our Chief Executive Officer and senior management are principally responsible for risk identification, management, and mitigation. Our senior management engages in an enterprise risk management (“ERM”) process each fiscal year. The process consists of an annual assessment of risks and an ongoing review of risk mitigation efforts and assessment of new risk developments. At regularly scheduled Board meetings, our Senior Director of Internal Audit reviews the key risks identified in the ERM process and management’s plans for mitigating such risks. Our directors have the opportunity to evaluate such risks and mitigation plans, to ask questions of management regarding those risks and plans, and to offer their ideas and insights to management as to these and other perceived risks and the implementation of risk mitigation plans.
In addition to discussions at regular Board meetings, the Audit Committee focuses on risks related to accounting, internal controls, financial and tax reporting, and related-party transactions; the Compensation Committee focuses on risks associated with our executive compensation policies and practices and executive succession planning; the Nominating and Governance Committee focuses on risks associated with non-compliance with SEC and NASDAQ requirements for director independence and the implementation of our corporate governance policies; the M&A and Finance Committee focuses on risks
related to our acquisition activities; and the Government Relations Committee focuses on risks to our business from governmental actions, including the defense budget and continuing budget resolutions.
Board of Directors Leadership Structure the Impact on Risk Oversight
Our Board Policy provides that the Chairman of the Board will be elected from among the independent directors, barring the Board’s specific determination otherwise. If, in its judgment the Board determines that election of a nonindependent Chairman would best serve the Company at a particular time, such a Chairman would be excluded from executive sessions of the independent directors. In such case, a Lead Independent Director, as appointed from time to time, would preside over executive sessions and would perform such other duties as might be determined from time to time by the Board.
The Board has determined that having a separate Chairman and Chief Executive Officer is the most appropriate leadership structure for the Board of Directors at this time. However, the roles of Chairman and CEO may be filled by the same or different individuals. This allows the Board of Directors flexibility to determine whether the two roles should be combined in the future based upon the Company’s needs and the Board of Directors’ assessment of the Company’s leadership from time to time.
As discussed above, our Chief Executive Officer and senior management are principally responsible for risk identification, management, and mitigation through our ERM process. Our Chairman of the Board is responsible for providing leadership for the Board, including the Board’s evaluation of management’s ERM process.
The Board of Directors meets in executive session without management present at each quarterly Board meeting and the Audit Committee meets in executive session at each quarterly Committee meeting, as well as having regular executive sessions with our Senior Director of Internal Audit and our independent registered public accounting firm.
Compensation Programs and Material Adverse Effects for the Company
Our general employee compensation programs are substantially less weighted toward incentive compensation and equity awards than those for our executive officers. While managers below the executive officers do have incentive compensation tied to Company performance, and may receive equity awards in the form of restricted stock, the relative weight of their fixed salary compensation is much greater than for the executive officers. While some sales personnel are heavily dependent on sales-based commissions, the terms on which they may make sales are controlled by product line managers and
corporate-level bookings and revenue recognition procedures overseen and administered by non-sales executives.
Although any compensation program can create incentives that may include an element of risk and prove to be inappropriate to future circumstances, or that may encourage behavior that proves to be risky for the organization, the Compensation Committee believes that our programs, for both executives and other employees, do not create a reasonable likelihood of material adverse effects for the Company. In reaching this conclusion, the Compensation Committee has considered the following:
- Our compensation program consists of both fixed and variable components, as well as short and long-term performance measures. The fixed portion (i.e., base salary) provides a steady income to our employees regardless of the performance of our business or stock price. The variable portion (i.e., bonus and equity awards) is based upon our financial performance against short- and long-term objectives and multi-year time-based vesting criteria. This mix of compensation is designed to motivate our employees, including our executive officers, to produce superior short- and long-term corporate performance without taking unnecessary or excessive risks to the detriment of important business metrics.
- For the variable portion of compensation, the executive bonus program is focused on profitability while the executive equity program awards have a mix of time-based and multi-year performance-based vesting. We believe that these programs provide a check on excessive risk taking because to inappropriately benefit one would be a detriment to the other. In addition, we prohibit all our executive officers from short selling Mercury stock or from buying or selling puts, calls, or other derivative securities related to Mercury stock. By prohibiting such hedging transactions our executives cannot insulate themselves from the effects of poor stock performance.
- In order for any employee, including our executive officers, to be eligible for the corporate financial performance element of our bonus program, we must first achieve a certain level of profitability that is established by the Compensation Committee (we refer to this metric as “adjusted EBITDA”). We believe that focusing on profitability rather than other measures encourages a balanced approach to our performance and emphasizes consistent behavior across the organization.
- Our executive bonus program payout is capped, as are our performance equity awards. We believe this mitigates excessive risk taking by limiting payouts even if we dramatically exceed our financial targets and other performance metrics.
- Our bonus program has been structured around attaining a certain level of profitability for several years and we have seen no evidence that it encourages unnecessary or excessive risk taking.
The calculation of our adjusted EBITDA for the executive bonus program is reviewed and defined annually by our Compensation Committee and is designed to keep it from being susceptible to manipulation by any employee, including our named executive officers.
Compensation Governance Best Practices
What We Do:
- Provide short-term and long-term incentive plans with performance targets aligned to business objectives
- Conduct an annual advisory vote for shareholders to approve executive compensation
- Maintain a Compensation Committee composed entirely of independent directors
- Require stock ownership for all executives
- Conduct regular shareholder outreach and engagement
- Retain an independent executive compensation consultant to the Compensation Committee
- Maintain an insider trading policy requiring executives and directors to trade only during established window periods after contacting our General Counsel prior to any sales or purchases of Mercury shares
- Use only double trigger change in control agreements for executives
- Maintain a clawback policy for actions that result in a financial restatement
What We Don't Do:
- Provide gross-up payments to cover personal income taxes or excise taxes pertaining to executive or severance benefits
- Allow employees, executives, and directors to engage in hedging or pledging of Mercury shares
- Reward excessive, inappropriate, or unnecessary risk-taking
- Allow the repricing or backdating of equity awards
- Provide pension plans or supplemental executive retirement plans
For a detailed discussion of our corporate and compensation governance program and policies, please see our most recent proxy statement and the Corporate Governance section of our Investor Relations page.