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Activist Investor Buys Stake in Unilever; Warns Ben & Jerry’s is Hurting Business

Investor Michael Ashner, who runs activist fund Winthrop Capital Partners, has bought a stake of an undisclosed amount in British conglomerate Unilever, in order to escalate shareholder pressure against the company’s failure to act against subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s over its boycott of Israel.

The New York Post explains:

He’s agitating for other shareholders to push the company to reverse Ben & Jerry’s decision to stop selling ice cream in the disputed Israeli-Palestinian territories.

 

He’s launched the Coalition to Hold Unilever Accountable and says he’s meeting with lawmakers and financiers to bring visibility to what he says is Unilever’s abdication of responsibility when it comes to managing Ben & Jerry’s.

 

Unilever is allowing Ben & Jerry’s to set policy that puts Unilever’s broader business at risk, Ashner contends — and what’s more, the company isn’t acknowledging the financial risks of wading into such a thorny social issue.

 

“Unilever is knowingly misleading its shareholders by failing to disclose in its regulatory filings the material risks to its business and valuation,” Ashner told The Post.

 

“The proposed termination of sales of its ice cream in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem of Israel has, among other things, directly resulted in the divestment and proposed divestment of more than $325 million of Unilever shares by a number of states, as well as proposed boycotts of Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever products,” Ashner said, based on his calculations.

The Post adds that Ashner, an expert on the New York City property market, has successfully waged many proxy battles against real estate companies.

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Tags: anti-Semitism, Ben and Jerry's, Israel, Unilever