Carl Icahn, the activist billionaire investor, has lost his bid to take over control of McDonald’s, the world’s most renowned fast-food franchise. Back in February Icahn launched a proxy fight for control of the company over pigs’ rights, believe it or not.
Not only did Carl Icahn lose, but he also lost big. This left observers wondering if he was ever serious about his take over plans. The Humane Society of the United States had supported his bid but withdrew it after McDonald’s promised to change its policies and ensure that only humanely treated pigs be used in the future.
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The chairman of Icahn Enterprises L.P. is an animal rights supporter. He wants McDonald’s to treat pigs better and to do away with its use of gestation crates. A gestation crate, also known as a sow stall, is a metal enclosure in which a farmed sow (pig) used for breeding may be kept during pregnancy. The crates are meant to keep the animals from harming one another during their pregnancies. But Carl Icahn has cited studies that show that they can cause physical and psychological suffering to the animals, including lameness due to weaker bones and muscles, abrasion injuries, cardiovascular problems, digestive problems, and urinary tract problems.
At the time, McDonald’s refuted Carl Icahn’s allegations saying, “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. This is an issue on which McDonald’s has been a leader.”
McDonald’s said that it only sources only approximately 1% of U.S. pork production and does not own any sows, or produce or package pork in the United States. By the end of 2022, the Company expects to source 85% to 90% of its U.S. pork volumes from sows not housed in gestation crates during pregnancy.
After the vote, McDonald’s released a statement saying, “Moving forward, McDonald’s Board and Leadership Team remain focused on continuing to take actions that uphold and advance our values while committing to serve the interests of all our shareholders.”