A leading agency has been invited to modify Unilever’s credit rating as a result of the Ben & Jerry’s boycott decision targeting Israel.
UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) and the Zionist Advocacy Centre have written to Fitch Ratings, pointing out that Unilever has faced many serious issues since its subsidiary, Ben & Jerry’s, announced its boycott targeting Israel.
Ben & Jerry's boycott threat triggered a number of major US states, including New York, New Jersey, Arizona, Texas, Illinois and Florida, to announce divestment of public funds from Unilever. The combined divestment is estimated to affect $1 billion of pension fund investments. Several American lawmakers recently called for an investigation of Unilever by the American Securities and Exchange Commission.
Last week Ben & Jerry’s Israeli franchisee filed a lawsuit against Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever in the US, claimingan injunction restraining them from terminating its franchise.
Jonathan Turner, chief executive of UKLFI said: “It is likely that going forward, Unilever will be faced with significantly increased litigation and regulatory risk arising from this situation. This situation has exposed a serious corporate governance problem within Unilever. It appears that Unilever may not have adequate controls in place to prevent its Ben & Jerry’s subsidiary, and perhaps other subsidiaries, from "going rogue" and jeopardizing the entire concern.”
UKLFI and the Zionist Advocacy Centre have suggested that Fitch Ratings should investigate this situation to determine if a modification of Unilever's credit rating is appropriate.
Fitch Ratings last affirmed Unilever’s long-term credit rating at A on 28 May 2021, prior to Ben & Jerry’s Israel boycott decision.