Oatly faces international shitstorm after Blackstone investment deal
by Katrin Muhl (comments: 0)
After the million-dollar deal with the investment company Blackstone, the organic oat drink producer is experiencing an international call for boycotts by former customers – Oatly backs up.
In July, the Swedish oat drink producer Oatly was able to increase its goodwill enormously by selling a shareholding. The deal, which brought Oatly the equivalent of 1.75 billion euros, was won by several US celebrities, but also by the investment company Blackstone - and Oatly customers have a problem with it.
With a volume of 545 billion US dollars, the Blackstone Group is one of the largest investment companies in the world and has a reputation for buying up companies in the manner of a so-called locust and then dropping them after they have been gutted.
Deforestation and proximity to Trump
Blackstone is also under criticism for investing in soybean cultivation in Brazil, and related infrastructure measures are said to have led to deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, according to a report by "The Intercept". In addition, Blackstone is considered a company which is close to Trump, and co-founder Steve Schwarzman is said to be a close confidant of the climate change-denying US president.
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Oat drink manufacturer Oatly
is worth 1.75 billion
Its offshoot Blackstone Growth is in command in the investor group, which holds a ten percent stake in the Swedish oat drink manufacturer. Oatly CEO Toni Petersson said in July: "We chose to partner with Blackstone Growth because the company has tremendous resources and a unique reach". For Petersson, Blackstone's commitment is "a clear indication of where the world is heading, in a new, more sustainable direction".
Oatly rejects the accusations
On Twitter, outraged customers around the world exchange information under the hashtag #oatlygate. Oatly responded to the criticism with words similar to those used in July: "We are still pursuing the mission of steering the world in a more sustainable direction. The fact that we are attracting investors in the financial world (where only a fraction of investments are green) to invest in our sustainability work is a big step forward," the company announced on its own Twitter account. It further states: "We believe that we can trigger a systemic change in the global financial industry that is absolutely necessary to build a sustainable future on this planet.
Oatly customers see this differently and call for a boycott of the products in social networks. Many feel deceived, like a Twitter user who reacts to Oatly's statement by saying: “Seriously Oatly? You really had to sell out to Blackstone? They’re destroying the Amazon and their CEO donated to Trump’s campaign to the tune of $3M. The only customers you have are people who care about the planet. Good luck without us!“
Seriously @oatly? You really had to sell out to Blackstone? They’re destroying the Amazon and their CEO donated to Trump’s campaign to the tune of $3M. The only customers you have are people who care about the planet. Good luck without us! #Vegan #climate #oatlygate— kkoth (@kkoth) September 2, 2020
It remains to be seen what consequences the Shitstorm will have for Oatly, and whether this will be reflected in numbers.