PETA Launches Protest Of Groupon’s Annual Meeting

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While you probably won’t get very far with your average PETA supporter by suggesting that you will stop eating animals when God stops making them out of meat, you’re less likely to be told your wrong if you were to tell them that they need to buy stock in Groupon Inc (NASDAQ:GRPN) before the deadline if you wish to be allowed into the company’s annual meeting. It’s very difficult to argue that.

Shut out of meeting, rightfully

The group had hoped to attend the annual meeting at the Dana Hotel in Chicago today and purchased 359 shares of the company for around $2000 in order to gain access. The problem was that in order to attend the meeting you needed to be a shareholder of record on March 31st of this year. PETA’s investment in Groupon Inc (NASDAQ:GRPN) was made on April 15th…oops.

PETA has a track record of buying stock in companies that it believes treats animals unethically. The company began the practice 27 years ago in companies it takes issue with in order to speak out at stockholder meetings, and holds shares in dozens of these companies. Last year, the company picked up shares in SeaWorld Entertainment Inc (NYSE:SEAS) in order to pressure the company to release its captive dolphins and whales. Though, if the group bought the shares between September and January they do risk the hypocrisy of profiting off the company based on today’s stock price.

PETA’s issues with Groupon

PETA’s issue with Groupon Inc (NASDAQ:GRPN) is the fact that the company continues to do business with circuses and zoos with records of animal abuse. Granted, PETA’s definition of animal abuse is a bar set quite low and yelling at my cat for jumping on the table during dinner risks the group wrath.

PETA set up a website in December of last year that allowed users contact Groupon by email about the groups that advertise on the site that it believes violates Groupon’s own rules. According to Delcianna Winders, deputy general counsel for PETA, over 90,000 have used the site to contact Groupon.

Winders has stated that the group will file a shareholder resolution for Groupon Inc (NASDAQ:GRPN)’s meeting next year if it doesn’t change its policies.

“In spite of (Groupon) being informed by PETA that they’re working with companies that violate their own policy, Groupon continues to work with roadside zoos and circuses that have recent Animal Welfare Act violations,” said Ashley Byrne, a PETA campaign specialist at the protest. “So PETA is bringing the issue directly to their shareholders.”

Groupon Inc (NASDAQ:GRPN) says that is requires companies that offer animal-focused deals to provide at least two years of U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection reports for animal cruelty in order to work with those companies. Groupon Spokesman Bill Roberts has maintained that it removes offers that don’t follow this practice.

However, PETA disagrees and just yesterday filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission accusing Groupon of “false and deceptive advertising.”

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