Le Societa Benefit

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP

La legge n. 208 del 28 dicembre 2015 (la "Legge di Stabilità 2016"), entrata in vigore il 1° gennaio 2016, ha elaborato una nuova formula per lo svolgimento dell’attività di impresa: le società a scopo di lucro che distribuiscono utili, ma che perseguono al medesimo tempo ed in maniera costante una o più finalità a beneficio della collettività e/o con un impatto sociale significativo ("Società Benefit" o "SB").

Sono stati in tal modo (i) definiti gli obiettivi della Società Benefit e (ii) gli adempimenti statutari minimi, (iii) individuate specifiche responsabilità in capo agli amministratori, (iv) introdotte particolari misure in materia di trasparenza verso i soci e gli altri portatori di interessi e (v) individuata nell’Autorità Garante per la Concorrenza e il Mercato ("AGCM") l’autorità che dovrà svolgere i necessari accertamenti ed assicurare il corretto perseguimento degli obiettivi della Società Benefit.

Le scopo di lucro e la finalità sociale

La Legge di Stabilità 2016 ha introdotto la figura della Società Benefit all’interno delle previsioni contenute nei commi da 376 a 382 dell’articolo 1.

Obiettivo del legislatore è stato quello di promuovere la costituzione e favorire la diffusione delle Società Benefit che perseguono una o più finalità di beneficio comune, e operano in maniera "responsabile, sostenibile e trasparente".

Il perseguimento continuo di tale finalità deve essere messo in atto nel corso del normale svolgimento di una attività economica, oltre lo scopo di dividere gli utili generati.

Il beneficio comune è da intendersi come quell’insieme di effetti positivi o la riduzione di effetti negativi che lo svolgimento dell’attività d’impresa della Società Benefit riuscirà ad assicurare nei confronti della comunità e degli altri portatori di interessi.

Si tratta dell’esercizio di un’attività economica della Società Benefit finalizzato a "migliorare l’ambiente naturale e sociale nel quale opera utilizzando pratiche, processi di produzione e beni in grado di produrre esternalità positive; le Società Benefit si prefiggono di destinare una parte delle proprie risorse gestionali ed economiche al perseguimento della crescita del benessere di persone e nel luogo ove operano o sul territorio azionale, alla diffusione e al sostegno della attività culturali e sociali, nonché di enti ed associazioni con finalità rivolte alla collettività e al benessere sociale " ("Beneficio Comune").

Sono individuati quali diretti beneficiari di ogni potenziale utilità espressa dall’operatività della Società Benefit, ai sensi della Legge di Stabilità 2016: le persone, la comunità, i territori e l’ambiente, i beni ed atre attività culturali e sociali, nonché enti e associazioni ed altri portatori di interesse.  

Adempimenti societari

La Società Benefit può essere costituita in una delle forme societarie prevista dal nostro ordinamento; in particolare si fa riferimento sia alle società di capitali che alle società di persone, includendovi altresì le società costituite in forma cooperativa. È chiaro, altresì, che ciascuna società che assume la finalità della Società Benefit dovrà operare nel rispetto delle norme che regolano la specifica forma societaria prescelta.

Ma il punto essenziale riguarda la previsione statutaria che attiene all’oggetto sociale, nel quale devono essere indicate le finalità di Beneficio Comune che la SB intende perseguire (cfr. supra § 1).

La Società Benefit deve essere gestita in modo da bilanciare l’interesse dei soci, con il perseguimento del beneficio comune.

Per le società già costituite, e che intendano trasformarsi in una Società Benefit, è necessario procedere con la modifica dello statuto sociale al fine di adeguarne l’oggetto con l’inserimento delle previsioni necessarie ad individuare le finalità di Beneficio Comune che le stesse intenderanno perseguire.

Solamente nel caso in cui tali adempimenti societari saranno pienamente soddisfatti, la società potrà aggiungere accanto alla propria denominazione sociale anche le parole: "Società Benefit" o "SB".

È, inoltre, richiesto dal nostro legislatore l’individuazione di uno o più soggetti all’interno delle Società Benefit cui affidare il compito di accertare il continuo perseguimento delle finalità proprie della SB come definite nell’oggetto sociale dello statuto. Sarà, quindi, necessario procedere con la definizione di un adeguato processo di gestione delle deleghe che possa attribuire a tale soggetto poteri e strumenti necessari.

La valutazione del Beneficio Comune

Il sistema di misurazione deve essere quanto più oggettivo possibile; per tale ragione, si richiede che la valutazione avvenga ad opera di un soggetto esterno, terzo ed indipendente.

La Legge di Stabilità 2016 prevede in due specifici e distinti allegati dell’articolo 1, comma 378, la definizione:

Sono, pertanto, oggetto di valutazione le seguenti aree:

  • Governo d’Impresa con particolare riferimento agli aspetti della trasparenza delle azioni e della strategia intrapresa dalla Società Benefit nel perseguimento dell’oggetto sociale, nonché nel coinvolgimento dei diversi portatori di interessi;
  • Forza Lavoro per tale intendendosi i dipendenti e i collaboratori della Società Benefit, così da poter accertare la qualità delle retribuzioni ed eventuali altri benefit, i piani di formazione e di crescita, la qualità dell’ambiente di lavoro, la flessibilità e la sicurezza;
  • Altri portatori di interessi al fine di valutare le relazione della Società Benefit con i propri fornitori, il territorio e la comunità nella quale opera, le attività culturali e sociali e ogni azione di supporto allo sviluppo locale;
  • Ambiente ossia l’analisi dell’impatto e del ciclo di vita dei prodotti e servizi resi, dell’utilizzo delle risorse ed il consumo di energia e materie prime nonché i sistemi di efficientamento della produzione.

Ciascuna di queste aree dovrà essere sottoposta ad una attenta valutazione che risulti, anche nel continuo:

Esauriente ed articolata per valutare l’impatto complessivo dell’attività della Società Benefit;

Credibile perché sviluppato da esperti competenti che utilizzino un approccio scientifico e multidisciplinare

Trasparente in ragione dell’elevato grado di chiarezza e delle modalità con cui si rendono disponibili le informazioni inerenti la Società Benefit, il proprio management, i propri processi e soprattutto il sistema di valutazione di misurazione.

La Legge di Stabilità 2016 richiede che le Società Benefit adottino alcune misure importanti al fine di rendere disponibile una adeguata ed idonea informativa nei confronti dei soci e degli altri portatori di interessi.

La principale tra queste riguarda l’obbligo di redigere annualmente una relazione concernente le modalità tramite le quali è stato perseguito dalla SB il Beneficio Comune.

La relazione, che sarà allegata al bilancio societario, deve fornire un’informazione puntuale che sia in grado di rappresentare:

  • un adeguato resoconto delle attività svolte al fine di perseguire le finalità del Beneficio Comune, nonché l’indicazione dei limiti eventualmente riscontrati che ne hanno impedito o rallentato il raggiungimento;
  • la valutazione dell’impatto generato dalla SB in relazione all’applicazione del modello standard di valutazione esterno;
  • ogni eventuale piano che la SB intenda adottare nell’esercizio successivo relativamente ad eventuali nuovi obiettivi.

La relazione annuale dovrà, inoltre, essere pubblicata sul sito internet della SB.

Da ultimo si segnala che l’attività svolta dalla SB è sottoposta al controllo dell’AGCM che in particolare dovrà intervenire al fine di accertare quei comportamenti che risultassero in violazione delle disposizioni in materia di pubblicità ingannevole (d.lgs. 145/2007) e/o quelle rilevanti ai fini della tutela dei consumatori (d.lgs. 206/2005).

Considerazioni Finali

A circa un anno dall’entrata in vigore della Legge di Stabilità 2016 rileviamo come siano già numerose le Società Benefit avviate e censite nel registro delle imprese. Riteniamo utile, in conclusione, soffermarci brevemente su alcune considerazioni finali e spendere due parole, in primo luogo, con riferimento alle previsioni imposte dalla Legge di Stabilità 2016 per le SB in ordine agli adempimenti societari; in secondo luogo, con riferimento ai potenziali effetti delle SB nell’attuale contesto di riforma del sistema bancario italiano.

I soggetti che vogliano approcciarsi al concetto di SB, potranno dover considerare con attenzione la previsione di processi interni atti a definire: (i) la mappa dei benefici comuni, (ii) le misure e i modelli di valutazione dell’andamento dell’attività di impresa e (iii) i sistemi di controllo utili, se non addirittura necessari, al fine di poter verificare e correggere, ove richiesto, eventuali comportamenti non coerenti con la strategia aziendale definita dall’organo di gestione della stessa SB.

In linea di principio anche gli istituti bancari potrebbero decidere di diventare società benefit. Molte banche (quali ad esempio le banche popolari e le banche di credito cooperativo, ma non sono le uniche) già contengono nel proprio oggetto sociale finalità di sostegno dell’economia locale e delle comunità delle quali sono espressione. In questo contesto, la nuova struttura della SB potrebbe essere considerata come una novità interessante, laddove una banca, a dichiarata vocazione territoriale, voglia cercare realmente di bilanciare gli interessi dei soci con quelli dell’ambiente, della comunità e degli enti locali di promozione di quel dato territorio e così assicurare uno sviluppo sostenibile e il miglioramento delle condizioni sociali e culturali di migliaia di persone. Trattandosi tuttavia di soggetti sottoposti ad una stringente regolamentazione, sarà certamente necessario un confronto con le autorità competenti anche al fine di valutare eventuali adeguamenti normativi o regolamentari.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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