Ben & Jerry’s Sues Parent Unilever To Block Sale Of Israeli Unit

Ice Cream maker Ben & Jerry’s reportedly filed a lawsuit against parent and British consumer giant Unilever to stop the sale of its Israeli business to a local license-holder Avi Zinger. The company alleged that the decision was made without the approval of its independent board.

The judge reportedly denied Ben & Jerry’s application for a temporary restraining order against Unilever but ordered the parent to show cause by July 14 for why a preliminary injunction should not be issued.

Ben & Jerry’s said the lawsuit filed in the Federal court of New York aims to protect the brand and social integrity it has built-in decades.

In late June, Unilever announced the sale of the Israeli branch of Ben & Jerry’s business for an undisclosed sum to Zinger’s American Quality Products, which already has the license to sell the ice cream in the country. The deal would keep the ice cream products available to all consumers in Israel and the occupied West Bank, including the Israeli settlements.

Last summer, Ben & Jerry’s revealed its plan to stop sales in the West Bank territory, which has been occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War in 1967. International law and many of the international community see those occupied areas as illegal settlements.

Meanwhile, the Israeli government sees those areas as part of its economy, and stopping ice cream sales in the occupied territories may result in ending its sales throughout the country.

Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, founded in 1978 by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, was acquired by Unilever in 2000.

In its filing, Ben & Jerry’s said that its brand is synonymous with social activism and that it had reserved the primary responsibility, as part of the Unilever deal, for safeguarding the integrity of the brand through its independent board.

Unilever, meanwhile, stated that it had the right to enter the deal as it had reserved primary responsibility for financial and operational decisions.

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