Activist company

BlackRock and other major McDonald’s shareholders join company in fight against Icahn

The McDonald’s company logo is seen on the front of a restaurant in London, Britain December 10, 2021. REUTERS/May James/Files

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BOSTON, May 25 (Reuters) – BlackRock (BLK.N) and other big McDonald’s (MCD.N) shareholders are backing the company in a board vote, putting the fast-food chain on the on track to defeat investor Carl Icahn in his campaign against animal welfare, sources said Wednesday.

Icahn, a billionaire who owns around $50,000 in McDonald’s stock, has named two leadership candidates to push the company to fulfill its decade-old promise to stop buying pork by the end of this year. from suppliers who house the animals in crates. He said confining pigs in crates while pregnant is inhumane and sought to shine a light on the practice more widely.

Index fund BlackRock, whose 4.6% stake ranks it the third-largest investor in McDonald’s, voted for the company, two people familiar with the vote said.

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Vanguard, which is McDonald’s largest shareholder, had also voted some of its shares for the company’s directors, according to earlier vote tallies, another source said.

Investors have time to change their votes until the annual meeting scheduled for Thursday morning, but people familiar with the vote say McDonald’s is very likely to prevail.

A representative for McDonald’s declined to comment, and a representative for Icahn did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The final vote would end, for now, a battle between one of America’s most successful activist investors and one of the world’s most iconic brands over how McDonald’s sources pork.

McDonald’s says it has worked to change its pork sourcing and cares about the health and welfare of animals in its supply chain, but called Icahn’s demands “completely impractical”.

BlackRock’s vote is a blow to Icahn, who had sought to tap into big index funds, including Vanguard and State Street, because they often pledge to pay close attention to environmental, social and governance issues. He expressed concern that they are not prioritizing animal welfare.

Proxy advisory firms Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis recommended shareholders back the company’s directors, arguing that Icahn had failed to make a compelling case for change and that his nominees had failed. qualifications to serve on McDonald’s Board of Directors.

But both companies, whose recommendations are widely followed by investors, said Icahn raised awareness about animal rights.

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Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss, editing by Richard Pullin

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