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

The important pension fund for New York’s state authorities staff and retirees warned Ben & Jerry’s father or mother company, Unilever, on Friday that it would prohibit its investments within the company due to the ice cream maker’s determination to halt sales in Israeli-occupied territories.

In a letter obtained by The Post, Liz Gordon, government director of company governance for the $254.8 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, knowledgeable Unilever CEO Alan Jope that state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli “is troubled and concerned” by Ben & Jerry’s announcement.

Gordon famous that the state pension fund has a coverage of proscribing investments in corporations concerned within the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) motion, and reviews counsel that “Ben & Jerry’s, a Unilever wholly owned subsidiary, is involved in BDS activities.”

“The Fund views BDS activities as a potential threat to Israel, its economy, and, as a result, the Fund’s relevant investments,” she wrote. “Further, various U.S. states have acted or are contemplating actions to penalize corporations that have interaction in such habits.

“As a result, companies that engage in BDS activities may face legal, reputational and financial risks.”

Gordon gave Jope 90 days to answer the letter and “confirm or deny whether Unilever or its subsidiaries have undertaken any activities with the intent to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or limit commercial relations with, the State of Israel.”

She added that if the company fails to reply, London-based Unilever can be “subject to a detailed review and staff recommendation, which may include investment restrictions.”

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

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

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

“We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT),” the company said in a statement.

The time period Occupied Palestinian Territories has been used for years to explain the areas occupied by Israel since 1967, specifically the West Bank, together with East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, in keeping with the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Ben & Jerry’s clarified that it’s not pulling out of Israel, the place it is going to proceed to promote ice cream “through a different arrangement.”

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

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

He notified the company that its announcement “may result in your business being placed on Florida’s Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel List pursuant to Florida Statutes.”

“As you may know, Florida law prohibits the state from investing in companies that discriminate against Israel by refusing to deal with or terminate business activities in a discriminatory matter,” mentioned.

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

In whole, there are 35 US states which have signed related legal guidelines aimed toward stopping states from funding corporations that boycott Israel, in keeping 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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