Carl Icahn has launched a proxy fight for two board seats at McDonald’s Corp., as the activist investor pushes the fast-food chain to require its suppliers to change their treatment of pigs.
Icahn has a very small McDonald’s
stake and had been in talks with the company alongside the Humane Society of the United States for several weeks, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month.
After the Journal reported Sunday that Icahn had nominated two directors, McDonald’s confirmed it in a statement and said the board would evaluate his nominees. At issue is McDonald’s suppliers’ use of so-called gestation crates, which are small cages used to constrain pregnant pigs.
In 2012, McDonald’s pledged to stop buying pork by 2022 from producers who use the crates. Few knew at the time that Icahn quietly had pushed for the changes behind the scenes.
Now, 10 years later, Icahn and the Humane Society are arguing that McDonald’s failed to follow through and changed its interpretation of the pledge. McDonald’s now often has its producers move pigs out of the containers only after confirming they are pregnant, which many wait to do so until the sows are four to six weeks into their 16-week pregnancies.
Icahn had expected the use of the crates to be banned altogether. He first got involved at the behest of his daughter, Michelle Icahn Nevin, who worked at the Humane Society at the time.
An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.
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