Daily Column – 21st February 2022

The documentary Icahn: The Restless Billionaire was shown on HBO last Tuesday, and just a few days later, Carl Icahn is making sure they are right.

The 86-year-old investor has put two people on the McDonald’s board in a bid to get the fast-food chain to change how it treats its suppliers’ pigs.

When McDonald’s heard from Icahn and the Humane Society, the company said it would only buy pork from suppliers that no longer used gestation crates (small stalls) to keep pregnant pigs. By 2022, McDonald’s said it would only buy pork from suppliers that stopped using them.

Icahn says that the company has both a) changed the goalposts and b) hasn’t moved fast enough in the last 10 years.

McDonald’s suppliers only move pigs out of gestation crates when they’re sure they’re pregnant, which could be weeks into their 16-week pregnancies, says Icahn. This could happen weeks into their pregnancies.

And McDonald’s says it won’t be able to get all of its pork from pigs in those conditions before 2024. This is what McDonald’s says.

When it comes to this, Icahn isn’t going about it the way most people do.

As the first “corporate raider,” Icahn made the strategy of “activist investing” a big deal. How that usually works: He buys shares in companies he thinks aren’t being run well, then uses that power to fight against the people in charge. The stock will rise if Icahn gets what he wants, so it will be worth more. And, with a net worth of about $17 billion, he’s done a good job.

He doesn’t do that with McDonald’s in the same way. he isn’t saying that the company is undervalued because it has bad leaders, but that it’s being unethical, which isn’t true. And he doesn’t think he’ll make money from this.

Most of the money Icahn invests in is in businesses that make hundreds of millions of dollars. He only owns about 200 shares of McDonald’s (about $50,000 worth).

“Animals are one of the things that make me really happy,” he said in the WSJ.

In the big picture, McDonald’s said it would look at Icahn’s two nominees, but it said that the industry can’t support completely getting rid of gestation crates at this point. It also said that Icahn is being a hypocrite because he doesn’t want to make changes at the meat company Viskase, which he owns a majority stake in.

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