If you doubted the seriousness of Carl Icahn’s concern for the suffering of sows wh ose sons are destined to become McDonalds’s sausage patties, well, doubt no more: He’s doubled his stake in the fast-food chain (to a staggering 200 shares) and is doing what he does best, taking this fight to the schoolyard of the annual general meeting.
On Sunday, McDonald’s confirmed that Mr. Icahn, who it says owns 200 shares in the restaurant chain, had nominated two people to its board over the matter — in what is likely to be the start of a bitter, and peculiar, contest.
“Mr. Icahn’s stated focus in making this nomination relates to a narrow issue regarding the company’s pork commitment, which the Humane Society U.S. has already introduced through a shareholder proposal,” McDonald’s said in a statement on Sunday. “This is an issue on which McDonald’s has been a leader.”
Icahn would probably use another word that begins with “l” and ends with “r,” given that McDonald’s promised him 10 years ago to stop buying pork from producers who keep their pregnant pigs in two-foot-wide crates, but is still sourcing some 40% of it from said producers. For it’s part, McDonald’s wonders whether the problem is the pigs, or the fact that it may have shaded the truth a bit with a bitter old corporate raider.
McDonald’s contends that Mr. Icahn’s demands are unreasonable given the current pork supply in the United States. And it cited what it said were inconsistencies with Mr. Icahn’s other investments, pointing to his majority ownership in a pork and poultry packer and supplier, Viskase, through his holding company Icahn Enterprises…. “it’s noteworthy that Mr. Icahn has not publicly called on Viskase to adopt commitments similar to those of McDonald’s 2012 commitment.”
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