NEW YORK, July 17, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Pomerantz LLP is investigating claims on behalf of investors of Unilever PLC (“Unilever” or the “Company”) UL. Such investors are advised to contact Robert S. Willoughby at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-476-6529, ext. 7980.
The investigation concerns whether Unilever and certain of its officers and/or directors have engaged in securities fraud or other unlawful business practices.
Unilever is a British multinational consumer goods company which sells more than 400 products in over 190 countries, including Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, which they acquired in 2000. In an attempt to preserve Ben & Jerry’s longstanding “Social Mission,” Unilever’s acquisition of Ben & Jerry’s included allowing for an independent board of directors, which was given primary responsibility for preserving and enhancing the objectives of the company’s Social Mission (the “B&J Board”).
More than 20 years after the acquisition, Ben & Jerry’s remains a wholly owned subsidiary of Unilever with an independent board addressing the company’s Social Mission. Since the acquisition, the B&J Board continued its Social Mission by engaging in promotions and advocacy across a host of issues concerning the environment, voter turnout, fair trade, and genetically modified organisms. Today, the B&J Board, chaired by Anuradha Mittal (“Mittal”), consists primarily of social activists who joined long after Unilever’s acquisition.
The B&J Board passed a resolution in July 2020 to end sales of Ben & Jerry’s products in areas that the B&J Board considers to be Palestinian territories illegally occupied by Israel. According to Mittal, Ben & Jerry’s CEO Matthew McCarthy (“McCarthy”) chose not to “operationalize” the resolution immediately, thus temporarily thwarting the B&J Board’s decision. During the morning of July 19, 2021, Unilever and its hand-picked CEO McCarthy “operationalized” the B&J Board’s resolution to boycott Israel. Ben & Jerry’s announced on its website and through its Twitter account that, upon the expiration of the current licensing agreement by which its products had been distributed in Israel for decades, Ben & Jerry’s would end sales of its ice cream in “Occupied Palestinian Territory”, but Ben & Jerry’s would purportedly continue to sell its products in Israel.
The decision by the B&J Board appeared to arise out of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (“BDS”) movement. The BDS movement is a pro-Palestinian movement promoting boycotts, divestments, and economic sanctions against Israel. The BDS movement’s objective is to coerce Israel into making concessions to the Palestinians by using boycotts and the like to exert economic and political pressure. Additionally, and of particular significance here, 35 U.S. states have adopted laws, executive orders, or resolutions aimed at discouraging boycotts, divestment, and sanctions of Israel (“Anti-BDS Legislation”).
During the morning of July 22, 2021, CNBC reported that the states of Texas and Florida were examining Ben & Jerry’s actions in connection with the states’ Anti-BDS Legislation. In addition to condemnation of Ben & Jerry’s boycott by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, CNBC reported that Texas State Comptroller Glenn Hegar, who controls billions of dollars in assets for Texas’ public pension funds, had already told his office to take action. Similarly, the state of Florida’s CFO Jimmy Patronis (“Patronis”), who controls Florida’s public pension funds, told CNBC that his office was already discussing the issue. In a letter reportedly sent to Ben & Jerry’s CEO, Patronis wrote: “It is my belief that Ben & Jerry’s brazen refusal to do business in Israel will result in your placement on the Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel List.” The letter also stated that Florida would then “be prohibited from investing in Ben & Jerry’s or its parent company, Unilever.” Being added to the list also meant that Unilever would not be able to enter or renew contracts with the state or any municipality in Florida.
Pomerantz LLP, with offices in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Paris, and Tel Aviv, is acknowledged as one of the premier firms in the areas of corporate, securities, and antitrust class litigation. Founded by the late Abraham L. Pomerantz, known as the dean of the class action bar, Pomerantz pioneered the field of securities class actions. Today, more than 85 years later, Pomerantz continues in the tradition he established, fighting for the rights of the victims of securities fraud, breaches of fiduciary duty, and corporate misconduct. The Firm has recovered numerous multimillion-dollar damages awards on behalf of class members. See www.pomlaw.com
Robert S. Willoughby
888-476-6529 ext. 7980