Ben & Jerry's Homemade
This is a Darden case study. This case examines issues of asset control for Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc., in light of the outstanding takeover offers by Chartwell Investments, Dreyer's Grand, Unilever, and Meadowbrook Lane Capital in January 2000. The case provides a unique opportunity to discuss fundamental firm objectives and the implications of a nontraditional corporate orientation; it reviews the development of Ben & Jerry's strong social consciousness and the takeover-defense mechanisms that maintain management's control on company assets. Students, in the role of outside board members, are invited to review management's performance, estimate the economic cost of its social agenda, and evaluate the implications of takeover defense strategies. Ultimately, they must take a position on whether Ben & Jerry's should continue to independently pursue its social agenda or accept one of the attractive takeover offers and accept a shift toward greater profit orientation. The case requires relatively little prior finance knowledge, and is designed largely to provide a stimulating introduction to the principles of a traditional corporate finance curriculum.