NY pension fund puts Unilever on notice for Ben & Jerry’s sales ban

The principle pension fund for New York’s state authorities employees and retirees warned Ben & Jerry’s mother or father firm Unilever Friday that it would prohibit its investments within the firm due to the ice cream maker’s choice to halt gross sales in Israeli-occupied territories.

In a letter obtained by The Submit, Govt Director of Company Governance for the $254.8-billion New York State Frequent Retirement Fund knowledgeable Unilever CEO Alan Jope, Liz Gordon that State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli “is troubled and anxious” by Ben & Jerry’s announcement.

Gordon famous that the state pension fund has a coverage of limiting investments in corporations concerned within the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) motion, and stories recommend that “Ben & Jerry’s, a Unilever wholly owned subsidiary, is concerned in BDS actions.”

“The Fund views BDS actions as a possible risk to Israel, its financial system, and, consequently, the Fund’s related investments,” she wrote. “Additional, various U.S. states have acted or are contemplating actions to penalize corporations that interact in such habits.

“Because of this, corporations that interact in BDS actions might face authorized, reputational and monetary dangers.”

Gordon gave Jope 90 days to reply to the letter and “verify or deny whether or not Unilever or its subsidiaries have undertaken any actions with the intent to penalize, inflict financial hurt on, or restrict industrial relations with, the State of Israel.”

She added that if the corporate fails to reply, London-based Unilever will likely be “topic to an in depth evaluate and employees suggestion, which can embody funding restrictions.”

In keeping with the New York State Frequent Retirement Fund’s most up-to-date annual report, it has about $73 million invested in Unilever.

Representatives for Unilever didn’t return The Submit’s request for remark.

The letter comes simply days after the Vermont-based ice cream firm introduced that it’s going to let its partnership settlement with its Israel-based licensee lapse on the finish of the yr.

“We imagine it’s inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be offered within the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT),” the corporate stated in a press release.

The time period Occupied Palestinian Territories has been used for years to explain the areas occupied by Israel since 1967, particularly the West Financial institution, together with East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, in accordance with the European Council on Overseas Relations.

Ben & Jerry’s clarified that it’s not pulling out of Israel, the place it should proceed to promote ice cream “by way of a distinct association.”

The transfer drew backlash not simply from New York state, however a number of others with anti-boycott legal guidelines, as properly.

Florida state CFO Jimmy Patronis, who controls public pension funds for the state, despatched his personal letter to CEO of Ben & Jerry’s Matthew McCarthy on Thursday.

He notified the corporate that its announcement “might end in your small business being positioned on Florida’s Scrutinized Corporations that Boycott Israel Checklist pursuant to Florida Statutes.”

“As chances are you’ll know, Florida legislation prohibits the state from investing in corporations that discriminate in opposition to Israel by refusing to take care of or terminate enterprise actions in a discriminatory matter,” stated.

He added that if the corporate is added to the state’s listing, each Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever can be barred from getting into into or renewing contracts with the state.

In complete, there are 35 US states which have signed comparable legal guidelines geared toward stopping states from funding corporations that boycott Israel, in accordance with Israel’s ambassador to the US Gilad Erdan.

Earlier this week, Erdan despatched a letter to the governors of these states calling on them to take motion in opposition to Unilever for Ben & Jerry’s announcement.

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