Ben & Jerry’s Israel boycott affects Unilever’s shareholders, US lawmakers say

Unilever ‘must disclose material risk factors’ to shareholders caused by Ben & Jerry’s Israel boycott, bipartisan U.S. lawmakers write in open letter.

By World Israel News Staff

The fallout from ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s decision to boycott Judea and Samaria is continuing to spell trouble for its parent company, with U.S. lawmakers calling for transparency about how the boycott has impacted Unilever’s market standing.

After several U.S. states announced their decisions to pull pension funding and other government investments in Unilever in line with anti-BDS laws, a group of bipartisan U.S House representatives penned a letter urging a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation into the company’s risk to shareholders.

Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) spearheaded the initiative to draft and gather signatures for the open letter, which was sent to SEC Chairman Gary Gensler, Fox News reported.

Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Andrew Garbarino (R-NY) also signed the letter.

“In the interests of shareholders, consumers, and public policy, we believe it is appropriate for the SEC to take steps to ensure the full disclosure of all information necessary to make Unilever’s filings in compliance with the rules and regulations of the United States’ SEC,” according to a copy of the letter obtained by Jewish Insider.

“Unilever is a widely held company with a current market capitalization of $135 billion, which places in jeopardy the manifold United States institutions, pension funds, and endowments which hold its shares on behalf of its beneficiaries,” the New York Post reported the letter as reading.

“We believe that these actions require the SEC to request that the regulatory filings of Unilever be amended to disclose the material risk factors.”

In a July statement, Unilever told Fox News that the corporation “remain[s] fully committed to our presence in Israel.”

In what appeared to be an attempt to distance the Ben & Jerry’s boycott decision from its parent company, Unilever cited a 2000 acquisition agreement with the ice cream makers that “recognized the right of the brand and its independent Board to take decisions about its social mission.”