Billionaire investor Carl Icahn started his battle with McDonald’s the usual way – buying a small stake in the company and then pushing his own candidates to the board. But what’s different this time is the issue – better treatment for pigs whose meat is included in McDonald’s hot dogs and other pork products.
On Sunday, McDonald’s confirmed that Mr. Icahn, who owns 200 shares in the restaurant chain, had nominated two people to his board over the matter – what could be the start of a scramble harsh and strange.
Mr. Icahn’s stake is only a fraction of McDonald’s, which has risen more than 18 percent in the past 12 months to a market capitalization of $187 billion. However, social causes investors have had recent success with small stakes, such as Engine Capital’s win at Exxon Mobil last year on its climate strategy.
According to McDonald’s, Icahn’s two board candidates are Leslie Samuelrich and Maisie Ganzler. Samuelrich is the chairwoman of Green Century Capital Management, an investment fund focused on sustainable energy, according to her LinkedIn profile. Ms. Ganzler is the director of strategy and brand at Bon Appétit Management Company, according to her LinkedIn Profile.
Mr. Icahn argued that McDonald’s had not lived up to its promise to change the way its pork was supplied. McDonald’s in 2012 committed to phasing out the use of so-called gestational sacs, small stalls in which sows are raised while pregnant. Animal rights advocates have pointed out the pens, known as sow pens, are inhumane.
Mr. Icahn told The Wall Street Journal this month that the company’s pork producers only transfer sows when they are 4 to 6 weeks pregnant at 16 weeks. He said his campaign was inspired by his daughter, a vegetarian animal lover.
An Icahn Enterprises press officer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Mr. Icahn’s central focus in making this nomination related to a narrow issue related to the company’s pork commitment, which the Humane Society of the United States made through a shareholder proposal , “McDonald’s said in a statement on Sunday. “This is an issue where McDonald’s has been a leader.”
McDonald’s considers Mr. Icahn’s request unreasonable current pork supply in the United States of America. And it cited what it said was at odds with Mr Icahn’s other investments, pointing to his majority ownership in a pork and poultry packaging and supplier, Viskasethrough his parent company Icahn Enterprises.
“Mr. Icahn’s ownership gives him unique exposure to industry-wide challenges and opportunities in moving away from the pregnancy crates,” said McDonald’s.
“It is therefore noteworthy that Mr. Icahn did not publicly call on Viskase to make the same commitments as McDonald’s 2012 pledge.”
McDonald’s says it supplies about 1% of total US pork production and does not own any sows, or produce or pack pork domestically. By the end of the year, McDonald’s said, it expects to source 85-90% of its U.S. pork from sows that haven’t been housed in pregnancy crates during gestation. By the end of 2024, they expect that all of their American pork will come from group-raised sows during gestation.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/20/business/dealbook/mcdonalds-pork-carl-icahn.html Carl Icahn pushes McDonald’s to change the way it sources pork