May 26, 2022 - Economy

Carl Icahn loses proxy battle with McDonald’s over pig welfare

Photo illustration of Carl Icahn and abstract shapes.

Photo illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios. Photo: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Carl Icahn officially lost his proxy fight with McDonald’s over its suppliers’ treatment of pigs on Thursday. All 12 director candidates that the company nominated were re-elected. Icahn's were trounced.

Why it matters: While he lost the battle, he hasn’t quite lost the war. Icahn raised awareness of how the pork industry puts pregnant pigs into gestation crates for weeks’ at a time in order to serve restaurant companies.

The other side: “We are proud of the progress we have made toward our ambitious goals – including with respect to animal health and welfare, climate, responsible sourcing and DEI – and we will continue to advance these goals in the future,” McDonald's said in a statement.

  • An Icahn representative didn’t immediately respond to comment.

Details: The activist investor’s two director picks mustered only 1% of McDonald’s shareholder votes. It's known that animal welfare is a particular passion of Icahn's daughter, Michelle.

What’s next: Icahn has also targeted Kroger’s for the same animal welfare issue.

  • He nominated two candidates to the grocery chain’s board in March, bringing up the company’s lack of progress to phase out pig gestation crates from its supply.
  • Kroger’s annual shareholder meeting is June 23.

Of note: McDonald's isn't the only fast-food company in the activist frying pan.

  • Nelson Peltz — another veteran agitator — and his Trian Partners hedge fund is agitating for Wendy's to pursue some kind of deal to boost its shares, which have lagged peers.
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