A cross-party group of United Kingdom lawmakers has written to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler expressing concerns about the Initial Public Offering proposed by JBS S.A.
The IPO would allow JBS, the world’s largest meat producer, to list on the New York Stock Exchange. The move is so contentious that an anti-packer group named Ban the Batistas has been formed to fight it.
JBS, which has offices and operations across the globe, has long been a center of controversy and litigation and has been criticized for its environmental and social practices. Yet as the company seeks to expand its global influence, the alarm bells are ringing louder than ever.
Ban the Batistas has found itself cited by the U.K. lawmakers alongside human rights and environmental advocacy organizations Global Witness and Might Earth, highlighting concerns against the brand.
“Rewarding JBS by declaring its IPO application effective and enabling it to access to U.S. capital bolsters the company’s ability to expand its global operations, leading to a surge in deforestation and environmental degradation,” say the Parliamentarians in their letter. “It contradicts global efforts of governments and businesses to take action to mitigate climate change, preserve essential natural habitats, and avoid jeopardizing the progress in addressing environmental challenges.”
The two environmental groups seem unlikely bedfellows with Ban the Batistas, who claims to be an umbrella group fighting for American farmers, ranchers, consumers, and investors. However, Ban the Batistas campaign is managed by Kimberly Spell, a senior vice president for consultant firm Actum who served for nearly a decade under New York City’s former Mayor Mike Bloomberg. The former mayor is known for comments mocking farmers, despite later efforts to make amends.
Actum is based in major urban centers including New York, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Washington, and London — places where agriculture is traditionally given lower priorities.
“JBS is also attempting to distort global public policy debate about meat consumption,” the U.K. letter also said. “Evidence suggests that at [the climate conference] COP28, JBS campaigned to position meat as ‘sustainable nutrition’ — a position that flies in the face of mainstream science.”
The campaign against JBS almost flies off the rails thanks to this argument, which misguidedly pits meat production as contradictory to sustainability. Ranchers, are you reading this?
“As JBS maneuvers to become a public company on the NYSE, Ban the Batistas and many concerned groups around the world are calling for investors, banks and regulators to withdraw their support for JBS’s plans to gain access to capital in the U.S. markets. Today, ten British MPs sent a letter to the SEC highlighting their concerns about JBS,” Spell said. “Given the potential for increased financial, social, and environmental risks posed by the meat conglomerate’s operations and legacy of misconduct, we urge the investment community to ask the hard questions and demand fuller transparency from JBS about its true intentions.”
»Related: Anti-JBS group forms as company looks to list on NYSE