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Shareholder Takes Unilever To Court Over Boycott Of Israel By Ben & Jerry

Shareholder Takes Unilever To Court Over Boycott Of Israel By Ben & Jerry
On Wednesday, Unilever Plc was sued by a U.S. shareholder who said the corporation bungled its Ben & Jerry's unit's decision to stop selling ice cream in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.
According to the proposed class action in federal court in Manhattan, Unilever wrongfully concealed the decision before it was disclosed, acknowledging that many U.S. states may divest from firms that support anti-Israel boycotts, but standing by it once the news became public.
Last July, Ben & Jerry's stated that it will cease selling its goods in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and parts of East Jerusalem, as well as end its three-decade partnership with an Israeli ice cream company that opposed the prohibition.
Unilever American depositary receipts ("ADRs") declined roughly 8% in six days as Florida and Texas examined their agreements with the British consumer goods company and some Jewish organisations accused Ben & Jerry's of anti-Semitism.
According to the complaint, seven states, including Florida, Texas, and New York, later withdrew their pension fund assets in Unilever.
"As a result of defendants' wrongful acts and omissions, and the declines in the market value of Unilever ADRs, plaintiff and other class members have suffered significant losses and damages," the complaint said.
The complaint was filed by the City of St. Clair Shores Police and Fire Retirement System, a Michigan pension fund.
Unilever did not reply quickly to calls for comment. Unilever's board of directors and CEO Alan Jope are also named as defendants.
Ben & Jerry's, founded in 1978, has long positioned itself as socially conscious, and despite being acquired by Unilever in 2000, it maintained its freedom to accomplish that objective.
Last July, Ben & Jerry's stated that selling ice cream in occupied Palestinian territory was "inconsistent with our values."
The majority of countries consider Israeli settlements in those territory to be illegal, which Israel denies.
American Quality Products Ltd, an Israeli ice cream company, sued Ben & Jerry's in March for refusing to renew its licence.
After the parties agreed to arbitration, a New Jersey court placed the matter on hold last week.
The case is City of St. Clair Shores Police and Fire Retirement System v Unilever Plc et al, No. 22-05011 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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