McDonald’s, the pigs and the billionaire: the feud in the board fought on the skin of the animals

Of Andrea Marinelli

Billionaire Carl Icahn buys 200 shares and proposes two new board members, promising more ethical treatment of animals. The company rejects the accusations, but undertakes not to obtain supplies from farms that use “gestation cages”

The McDonald’s board is fighting a feud over pigskin: on the one hand is the billionaire Carl Icahn who, with 200 shares in his pocket, wants to snatch two seats on the board of directors by proposing a more ethical treatment of animals; on the other there are the top management of the multinationalwhich they argue is impossible in the current pork industry to meet the investor’s demands. In between are them, the pigs, which before ending up in McDonald’s sandwiches are raised in an inhumane way. As early as 2012, the Chicago-based giant had pledged to stop buying pork from breeders using the tiny gestation cages sows are locked up during pregnancy, but the promise has not been fully fulfilled: currently 60% of McDonald’s American meat comes from producers who do not use cages, which are so small that they prevent the animals from turning and already illegal in California and Massachusettsbut most of the “virtuous” breeders, said Icahn, 86, in an interview with Wall Street Journalthey release the sows only after 4 or 6 weeks – out of 16 total – of gestation.

And so is the billionaire who partially inspired the film’s greedy Gordon Gekko Wall Street He has gone to the assault, influenced – he claims – by the vegetarian and animal-loving daughter, Michelle Icahn Nevin, who previously worked with the non-profit Humane Society of the United States. You first bought a very small stake in the company, 200 shares for a value of about $ 52,000, then proposed two candidates for the board of directors that can improve the existence of pigs and that they will go to the elections at the annual investor meeting in 2022: Leslie Samuelrichchairman of an investment fund specializing in sustainable energy, Green Century Capital Management, e Maisie Ganzler, head of the Bon App├ętit Management Company strategy. Icahn’s – 124th richest man on the planet in 2021, with assets of $ 15.8 billion – is a pretty common move these days, as an activist investor pursuing social causes, but it strikes a company in excellent healthwhich has seen its shares grow 18% in the past year and reach a market capitalization of $ 187 billion.

“Icahn’s appointments refer to a single issue concerning the company’s commitment to pork, already introduced by the Humane Society US through a shareholder proposal,” replied the company founded in 1940 in San Bernardino in a statement. , in California, by brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald, and transformed into a global colossus by Ray Kroc starting in 1955, a story told by the film The Founder. “McDonald’s is a leader in this sector”. According to the leaders of the multinational, the requests made by Icahn – who also invests in producers and distributors of sheep and pork, in particular the Viskase company – they are simply unreasonable: in any case, however, McDonald’s is committed to buying from this year by breeders who do not use gestational cages
between 85% and 90% of pork produced in Americareaching 100% by 2024. “It is remarkable”, however, concludes the statement, “that Icahn has not publicly asked Viskase to commit in the same way”.


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