Oatly have been making headlines for the wrong reasons lately. They sold 10% of their business for $200m to Blackstone who are a private equity group worth $565 billion
Blackstone are investors in a lot of companies, some with alledged human rights violations and ones who deforest the Amazon. Blackstone deny this and say it was not their investment and it was entirely the Brazilian government.
Oatly chose Blackstone arguing that they are diverting money away from harmful things and are making oat milk more mainstream.
Are they now less sustainable or the same people having the same impact?
Blackstone are moving into industries like health and science and Oatly is part of this. They also own some renewables. If we condemn harmful investments do we praise this? Is it always “greenwashing” if we find an inconvenient investment like this?
There are calls to boycott Oatly. This would harm Oatly, make them a poor investment and cede market share to others. But what if others have bad owners that own more than 10%? (They do)
If we boycott Oatly because Blackstone has a 10% share then are we hypocrites?
Blackstone have $565 billion of assets. Until recently they owned McVities and Jacobs, they own big chunks of entertainment, hotels and a big bit of Facebook and thus WhatsApp and Instagram. If we are using their hotels, cinemas, biscuits (now sold) or social media are we as complicit as buying Oatly?
Boycotting a sustainable 0.035% (Oatly’s value) of Blackstone but not the rest as a protest is futile.
Should we support Blackstone investing in a good company over a bad? Do we want them to continue investing in bad ones? Those are the only options they have. The world’s biggest investment group can’t vanish.
Legally they have never been found to break the law. Maybe the bigger issue here is we need better laws?
Oatly have gambled at disrupting the market in an attempt to influence and deliberately change the course of future investments.
If we boycott everyone with “bad” owners we will never buy anything, it is unlikely Blackstone are the worst people we give money to each day.
We need to be critical and consistent in our views and not jump to conclusions.