Bill Gates and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation buy stake in Heineken for $902 Million.
But there is serious concern about the apparent conflict of interest in relation to Mr Gates’ and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s stated goal to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty world while they seek to profit from an industry that is causing serious harm to millions of people around the world.
Movendi International criticizes the investment and calls on Mr Gates and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to retract their investment from Heineken.
February 24, 2023 (Stockholm, Sweden) – Bill Gates in his individual capacity and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust both bought major stakes in Heineken Holding NV, the controlling shareholder of the world’s second-largest brewer.
Mr Gates and his foundation bought shares in Heineken for at €848.2 million ($902 million). Mr. Gates now controls 3.8% of Heineken Holding.
Heineken is the world’s second largest beer producer. The beer giant has been exposed for its unethical business practices. In the book “Heineken in Africa” investigative journalist Olivier van Beemen documents Heineken’s complicity in genocide, support for Apartheid, corruption, tax avoidance schemes, and collaboration with rebel groups.
Mr. Gates likes to promote himself as an avid reader. I wish he had read ‘Heineken in Africa’ to inform himself about the company he is investing in to accelerate profit maximization,” says Ms. Kristina Sperkova, International President of Movendi International.
As the second largest beer producer in the world, the products and practices of Heineken, are causing serious harm to people and communities worldwide. With this type of investment, Mr Gates and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are undermining their credibility in global health.”Kristina Sperkova, International President, Movendi International
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a U.S. American private foundation holding $49.8 billion in assets. The primary stated goals of the foundation are to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty across the world.
The harm caused by the alcohol industry, including Heineken, is a major obstacle to eradicate poverty, promote health, and facilitate development for all.
- Alcohol is the second largest risk factor for disease burden in the age group 10-24 years.
- And alcohol is the largest risk factor for disease burden in the group 25-49 years, according to the Global Burden of Disease study 2019.
- Alcohol is also a major obstacle to development and poverty eradication. Alcohol harm negatively affects 14 of 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
- And the combined harm from alcohol’s direct and second-hand effects is nearly double that of the total burden caused by tobacco.
Profits from Heineken products for a few, means escalating alcohol harm for many,” says Mr. Pubudu Sumanasekara, International Vice President of Movendi International.
We can see that Heineken is using aggressive lobbying and marketing methods in Sri Lanka and other developing countries. This drives harm in our communities and it derails efforts from our governments to take evidence-based policy action to promote health and development for all.
We are shocked that Mr. Gates and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would put their own wealth so clearly ahead of the health and wellbeing of millions of people worldwide.”Pubudu Sumanasekara, International Vice President, Movendi International.
In 2018, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria came under wide-ranging public criticism for their attempt to launch a partnership with Heineken. The conflict of interest between the Global Fund’s mission to end HIV/ AIDS and TB – two infectious diseases where alcohol is a major risk factor – and the profit maximization interest of Heineken led the Global Fund to suspend the partnership soon after the initiative was announced.
Also in 2018, the Dutch Bank ASN announced its decision to divest from Heineken due to the revelations of the beer giant’s practice to use beer girls to sell their products in Africa, following the investigations and reporting of Mr. van Beemen.
The products of Heineken cause cancer and contribute to a significant global health and development burden,” says Ms. Sperkova.
In addition, Heineken is employing unethical practices such as the beer promotion girls scheme, where young women are exposed to exploitation and sexual abuse, or beer promotion in schools.
We call on Mr. Gates and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to better inform themselves about the global alcohol burden, to reconsider whether they want to profit from Big Alcohol, and to follow the evidence by retracting their investment in beer giant Heineken.”Kristina Sperkova, International President, Movendi International
Notes to the editor
About global alcohol harm
The Global Burden of Disease study for 2019 published in The Lancet in 2020 showed that alcohol remains one of the leading risk factors contributing to the global burden of disease.
- The contribution of alcohol to the global disease burden has been increasing year by year from 2.6% DALYs in 1990 to 3.7% DALYs in 2019.
- In high income countries alcohol use is the second fasted growing risk factor and in LMICs it is the fourth fastest rising risk factor.
- Alcohol is the second largest risk factor for disease burden in the age group 10-24 years (GBD does not count FAS and FASD, so alcohol is not mentioned in the group 0-9 years).
- Alcohol is the largest risk factor for disease burden in the group 25-49 years.
In addition to Movendi International’s analysis revealing the extent to which alcohol hinders sustainable development, the WHO Regional Offices for Europe and the Americas have each issues fact sheets illustrating alcohol’s negative impact on development.
A landmark report on the lethal interaction between alcohol and the coronavirus showed, among other aspects, the heavy burden of alcohol harm on healthcare, health systems, and health promotion.
Heineken has amassed a track record of unethical business practices. Heineken has been exposed for the harm it causes in Africa by investigative journalist Olivier van Beemen in his book “Heineken in Africa”. From aggressive political activity, to tax avoidance schemes; from racism, exploitation of women, Human Rights abuses to unethical marketing, Heineken relies on a vast spectrum of unethical business practices to drive alcohol use and maximize profits.
Movendi International has documented some examples (more than 80 so far) of Heineken’s unethical practices and the harm they cause.
About Movendi International
With 140+ Member Organization from 50+ countries, Movendi International is the largest independent global social movement for development through alcohol prevention. We unite, strengthen and empower civil society to tackle alcohol as serious obstacle to development on personal, community, societal and global level.