Shareholders File Resolution Urging PepsiCo To Detail AIDS Activities Among Its African Businesses
A group of religious shareholders, coordinated by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, has filed a proxy resolution calling for PepsiCo to detail its plans to address the AIDS epidemic in its African soft drink and snacks businesses, the Financial Times reports (Liu, Financial Times, 4/25). The resolution -- which was submitted by MMA, a faith-based investment company -- calls for PepsiCo to conduct an "inexpensive study" on the impact of AIDS on the company's operations in Africa, including the its response to the epidemic, that would be made available to shareholders by October 2003 (MMA release, 4/24). However, PepsiCo has said that its business in Africa is "too small" for such a study; the company states on its Web site that its African snack sales are "less than 0.5% of PepsiCo's global sales and assets," the Times reports. PepsiCo spokesperson Dick Detweiler said, "The fact of the matter is we have very comprehensive programs that we offer our employees in connection with HIV and AIDS. We feel that to conduct a report wouldn't add any value to our shareholders" (Financial Times, 4/25). On March 4, 2003, the Securities and Exchange Commission denied a PepsiCo request to kill the proxy measure, according to a MMA release. In response to the shareholders' concerns, PepsiCo has posted an "HIV/AIDS Initiatives" section on its Web site, including information on its African business operations, employee programs and charitable activities. Mark Regier of the MMA said, "We thank and applaud PepsiCo for this response to shareholder concern on the issue. We look forward to a thoughtful assessment of the overall business impact of the pandemic on the company's African operations" (MMA release, 4/24). The resolution filed with PepsiCo is "one of several" filed against U.S. companies with businesses in Africa, according to the Times. However, the coalition noted that similar actions taken with Colgate-Palmolive, Chevron-Texaco and Ford Motor Company have been withdrawn because the companies have opened dialogue with the shareholders, the Times reports (Financial Times, 4/25).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.