Business

Carl Icahn launches proxy fight with McDonald’s over treatment of pigs

Carl Icahn speaking at Delivering Alpha in New York on Sept. 13, 2016.
David A. Grogan | CNBC

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn has started a proxy fight with McDonald’s over the fast food giant’s treatment of pigs, pushing for two board seats at the global fast food giant.

McDonald’s said Sunday in a release that Icahn has nominated Leslie Samuelrich and Maisie Ganzler for election at the company’s 2022 annual shareholder meeting.

“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.

Icahn, who helped define a new era of capitalism in the 1980s after taking over iconic companies including Trans World Airlines, has pushed McDonald’s for better treatment of pigs in recent years, according to The Wall Street Journal. Specifically, he is said to have called for the end of an industry practice that uses crates to house pregnant pigs so they can’t move.

“Animals are one of the things I feel really emotional about,” Icahn previously told The Journal.

The corporate raider has demanded that McDonald’s require all its U.S. suppliers move to “crate-free” pork, according to the release. The fast food chain uses pork in its bacon cheeseburgers, breakfast offerings and its McRib sandwich.

“While the Company looks forward to promoting further collaboration across the industry on this issue, the current pork supply in the U.S. would make this type of commitment impossible,” McDonald’s said. “Furthermore, it reflects a departure from the veterinary science used for large-scale production throughout the industry, and would harm the Company’s shared pursuit of providing customers with high quality products at accessible prices.”

Icahn owns just 200 shares of McDonald’s stock, according to the release. He is also the majority owner of a company that supplies packaging for the pork and poultry industry, according to McDonald’s, which questioned why Icahn hadn’t called on that company to make similar commitments.

McDonald’s shares closed Friday down slightly at $250.60.

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