Carl Icahn, a billionaire who planned to shake up the McDonald’s board of directors to improve the company’s treatment of pregnant pigs, was rejected in a vote.
Only 1% of shareholders approved the nominees proposed by Mr. Icahn, a stakeholder in the company.
Mr Icahn’s demands had been contested by McDonald’s, which said they were unrealistic.
The millionaire claims that his daughter, an animal enthusiast who has worked for the Humane Society, inspired him to take on McDonald’s.
Mr. Icahn, one of a handful of dreaded corporate raiders who is thought to have been the inspiration for Gordon Gekko in the 1987 film Wall Street, usually focuses his efforts on firms that require reorganization.
“At this point in my career, I feel it my obligation to participate in constructive activism to help remedy blatant injustices perpetuated by many inefficient boards of directors and management teams managing America’s largest public firms,” the 86-year-old said in a public letter last month.
Mr. Icahn bought $50,000 worth of stock and demanded that the business follow through on a promise made in 2012 to cease purchasing pork from suppliers that confine pregnant pigs in tiny crates, among other adjustments.
Since its 2012 vow, McDonald’s claims to have forced the industry to reform. By the end of the year, it intends to get 85 percent to 90 percent of its pigs from these suppliers, and by 2024, it expects to acquire all of its pork from these sources.
In a letter sent earlier this month, it asked shareholders to reject his nominations.
“Mr. Icahn is exploiting a small problem – McDonald’s 2012 pork pledge – as a rationale to modify the way McDonald’s gets pork in the United States and lower the quantity of meat-based items on our menu,” the company stated.
It went on to say that any change would put “unacceptable financial strain on our clients.”
The vote’s results were provisional, pending a final count. The results of voting on other shareholder proposals, such as one demanding a racial equity audit, were not shared by the company.