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Ben & Jerry’s Says Board Pay Frozen by Unilever in Israel Row

Ben & Jerry’s Says Board Pay Frozen by Unilever in Israel Row
A pint of Unilever brand Ben & Jerry's ice cream arranged in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022. Unilever Plc would need just over 50% of shareholders to back the purchase of GlaxoSmithKline's consumer health unit, its biggest takeover attempt ever. Judging by the initial reaction, that might prove a tough bar to clear. Photographer: Tiffany Hagler-Geard/Bloomberg

Ben & Jerry’s says Unilever Plc froze compensation for the ice-cream brand’s independent board in retaliation after it sued its corporate parent in a dispute over sales in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. 

The move was a “pressure tactic” before a mediation process that failed last week, according to a statement from Ben & Jerry’s independent board Wednesday. The parties will now proceed to a temporary injunction hearing in federal court in New York.

Ben & Jerry’s sued Unilever last month to block a deal to sell the the ice-cream brand’s Israel arm to a local businessman saying it would conflict with the company’s “core values.” The legal action follows a controversy last year when Ben & Jerry’s said it would halt sales in Jewish West Bank settlements, citing human rights concerns.

Ben & Jerry’s has a history of publicly embracing socially progressive causes from same-sex marriage to the Black Lives Matter movement. Last week Unilever Chief Executive Officer Alan Jope said the brand shouldn’t stray into geopolitics with plenty “to get their teeth into on their social justice mission.”

Unilever said in an emailed statement that under the terms of the acquisition agreement forged 22 years ago, it maintains control of the financial and operational decisions for the Ben & Jerry’s brand and had the right to sell the Israel business.



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