Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Treasurer Folwell Applauds Unilever, PLC for Spinning Off Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

Company Unloads Ice Cream Business after Rocky Road
Raleigh, NC
Mar 20, 2024

Packaged goods giant Unilever, PLC announced Tuesday, March 19, that it was giving the cold shoulder to the ice cream business that it started in 1922. In a press release, the U.K.-based company said it has “decided that the separation of Ice Cream best serves the future growth of both Ice Cream and Unilever.”  

State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, CPA, applauded the company’s decision, saying that the Department of State Treasurer’s (DST) Investment Management Division would review the details of the separation to see if the move puts the company back in compliance with North Carolina’s “Divestment From Companies Boycotting Israel” statutes.

Last December, Treasurer Folwell announced that DST had updated its list of companies subject to divestment and contract restrictions due to their boycott of Israel. Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc. was added to the list at that time. The action included affiliates of Ben & Jerry’s such as its parent company, Unilever PLC, and Unilever’s subsidiaries.

“I am pleased that Unilever has seen fit to spin off Ben & Jerry’s from its portfolio of products,” Treasurer Folwell said. “I look forward to working with our investment division to see if the new business arrangement allows us to remove Unilever from our divestment list. But the devil is always in the details, and we want to make sure Unilever has fully separated itself from an antisemitic company like Ben & Jerry’s.”  

State statute prohibits “the North Carolina Retirement Systems or the Department of State Treasurer from investing in any company engaged in a boycott of Israel.” It was determined that Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc. is boycotting Israel, therefore, Treasurer Folwell ordered the divestment of $40 million in Unilever assets. Additionally, he instructed that local governments and state agencies be notified that they are prohibited from contracting with either company.  

“We don’t pick and choose what laws to follow,” said Treasurer Folwell.  

The North Carolina Retirement Systems provides retirement benefits and savings for more than 1 million members, including teachers, firefighters, police officers, state and local government employees and other public workers. The Department of State Treasurer manages the pension plans’ investments currently totaling $120.3 billion.

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