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7. Auditors

Duration of the mandate and term of office of the lead auditor

The external auditors are elected by the Annual General Meeting of shareholders for a term of office of one year.

PricewaterhouseCoopers have served as external auditors of the consolidated financial statements and those of the holding company since 2003. Following a public tender and as proposed by the Board of Directors, PricewaterhouseCoopers were re-elected by the Annual General Meeting on 28 April 2016. Thomas Wallmer, auditor in charge of the mandate, has officiated as lead auditor since the 2015 financial year.

Audit fees of CHF 322,852 (2017: CHF 257,240) to PricewaterhouseCoopers were incurred in 2018.

Additional fees totaling CHF 33,386 (2017: CHF 51,66) were charged by PricewaterhouseCoopers in the year under review.

Audit supervision and control instruments

The Audit Committee is responsible for supervising and controlling the external auditors. A representative of the auditors is also invited to attend meetings of the Audit Committee to provide information. The Audit Committee assesses the performance, fees and independence of the external auditors based on criteria such as professional expertise, scope and quality of written reports and oral comments, practical feasibility of recommendations, transparent and effective communication and coordination, as well as compliance with deadlines. The Audit Committee examines annually the scope of the external audit, audit planning and the relevant processes, and discusses the audit results with the external auditors. The reporting by the external auditors includes the reports of the statutory auditors and the comprehensive report by the auditors to the Audit Committee and the Board of Directors on the financial year just ended.