For quite a while now I have been meaning to look into the shareholdings of Weight Watchers International. In this modern capitalist world it is obvious that any company listed on the open stock exchange is going to have a variety of shareholders, I just wanted to see how many of the investment institutions who own portions of WW are hedging their bets – i.e. are they also investing in the ‘otherside’? So I chose two huge multinational companies and compared their top nine institutional investors with the top nine from WW (I made an exception for the main WW institutional investor – Westend S.A. of Luxembourg – I can’t find out much about these guys?). The two ‘otherside’ multinationals I chose were Mcdonalds Corporation and YUM brands who own KFC and other KFC type businesses. Here is the breakdown:
|WWI %||McDs %||Yum %|
|Morgan Stanley Investment Management Inc||10.21||n/a||0.93|
|Fidelity Management and Research Company||7.23||5.4||2.33|
|Capital Research Global Investors||5.33||0.58||5.38|
|T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc.||3.8||0.62||2.31|
|Delaware Management Business Trust||3.48||n/a||n/a|
|Vanguard Group, Inc.||2.72||4.76||4.11|
|Wellington Management Company, LLP||1.41||n/a||n/a|
|Morgan Stanley & Co Inc||0.82||n/a||n/a|
|First Manhattan Company||1.22||n/a||n/a|
So basically this shows that the top four and Vanguard Group all own shares in WeightWatchers and similar shareholdings in McDonalds and KFC. I am confident that I would find other ‘otherside’ investments for the remaining four – I just don’t have time to search!
Well the what is simple – how can the staff and clients of WeightWatchers International seriously think the owners of the company (as in the shareholders) want them to succeed in weight loss when they clearly are taking a bet both ways? The simple fact is that these investment funds do not give a tiny shit about the 1.3 million customers or ~50,000 staff members, they care about the performance of the company and the resultant dividends and share value. The board and senior management of WeightWatchers are similar, all they want is to increase the value of the shares, which they do by insidiously promoting weight-cycling.
We need to stop looking at WeightWatchers International as a company providing a weight loss service and start looking at it as a massive international capitalist enterprise owned by equally massive investment institutions and hedge funds who also own McDonalds, KFC and many ‘otherside’ organisations.
Does this surprise anyone?