Governor Ron DeSantis has called on state administrators to investigate Florida’s investments in stock
who has come under fire for her decision to work with transgender social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
It’s the latest salvo in DeSantis’ so-called war on woke companies, and the order comes when the state pension plan doesn’t appear to hold any stock in the beer company, although other investment vehicles tied to the plan do.
DeSantis sent a letter dated Thursday, July 20 to Lamar Taylor, Acting Director of the State of Florida Board of Directors (SBA), asking him to “initiate a review to examine how AB InBev’s conduct has impacted and continues to impact the value of AB InBev’s holdings of SBA.”
He added: “It appears to me that AB InBev may have breached legal obligations to shareholders, and that shareholder action may be both appropriate and necessary.”
In the letter, DeSantis asked Taylor, who oversees an agency that provides investment services to Florida state and local government entities, including the prominent Florida Retirement System, to share his letter with AB InBev directors.
Then, early Friday, DeSantis said on Twitter that environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) investing had been “failed” in the state and that “all options are on the table and woke up companies that put ideology before returns should be warned.”
“Anheuser-Busch InBev takes its responsibility to its shareholders, employees, distributors and customers seriously,” a company spokesperson said in reference to DeSantis’ comments. “We are focused on long-term sustainable growth for them by optimizing our business and providing consumers with products to enjoy on any occasion.”
Earlier this year, AB InBev engaged with Mulvaney to promote its Bud Light brand on the personality social media channel. The action has led to boycotts and a drop in sales of Bud Light, which is no longer the top-selling beer in the country.
This isn’t DeSantis’ first attack on Bud Light or ESG more broadly. The Republican presidential candidate has made headlines for targeting companies he says prioritize cultural issues over their business, as evidenced by the legal and political row between him and
DeSantis says investigation into SBA’s investment in AB InBev will protect Florida retirees. The latest SBA Securities and Exchange Commission filing shows no record of the pension plan holding AB InBev stock at the end of the first quarter or during the fourth quarter of 2022. However, as of July 14, an SBA fund held approximately 819,880 shares worth approximately $48 million of AB InBev stock in the pension plan’s name, a spokesperson said.
If the pension plan itself purchased shares of AB InBev directly after the controversy began, it would be reflected in the second quarter 13F filings, which are usually due in August.
The Florida Pension Plan owns Disney stock. According to SEC filings, Florida’s flagship pension plan owned nearly 2 million shares of Disney stock at the end of the first quarter, roughly flat since the end of 2022. The SBA also owns just over 165,000 shares of the liquor maker.
(STZ), according to his latest filing.
AB InBev’s US certificates of deposit closed 0.3% on Friday and shares are still down about 14% from their highs seen before the boycotts. They rebounded from their spring lows, climbing 1.1% last month and 1.4% over the past five days.
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