Activist Investor Jana Partners, Gates Foundation Drop McDonald’s Shares

CHICAGO (Chicago Tribune/TNS) -

Activist investor Jana Partners has lost its craving for McDonald’s, according to the firm’s latest filing.

Separately, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust also shed its stake in McDonald’s. The trust no longer holds more than 10 million shares of McDonald’s, according to a filing from last week. It continues to hold more than 3 million shares in Arcos Dorados, which runs McDonald’s restaurants in Latin America and the Caribbean and is the world’s largest single McDonald’s franchisee.

Jana Partners disclosed a purchase of McDonald’s shares in November, amid a string of disappointing results under CEO Don Thompson. In late January, McDonald’s said Steve Easterbrook would step in as CEO in March, replacing Thompson, among other changes. The company’s sales in the past two months showed signs of improvement in the important U.S. market.

Jana Partners’ latest quarterly report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, on Tuesday, showed no ownership of McDonald’s. In November, the firm’s quarterly filing showed it held 842,268 shares of McDonald’s, plus an option to buy up to 200,000 more shares.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust did not hold any McDonald’s shares according to its Feb. 13 quarterly filing with the SEC. The trust held 10,872,500 shares in McDonald’s as of its prior filing, in November.

The trust holds assets donated by Bill and Melinda Gates and gets contributions from Warren Buffett. It transfers proceeds to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is known for charitable work in areas such as global health.

Representatives for New York-based Jana, the Kirkland, Wash.-based Gates Foundation and McDonald’s, headquartered outside Chicago, could not immediately be reached for comment. In November, Jana Partners declined to comment on its investment. At that time, McDonald’s said it welcomed all investments in the company.