Animal tester turns to US cash

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The Independent Online

Huntington Life Sciences has had to look to the US for new shareholders after a concerted campaign by animal rights protestors to intimidate its UK investors and bankers.

Huntington Life Sciences has had to look to the US for new shareholders after a concerted campaign by animal rights protestors to intimidate its UK investors and bankers.

A spokesman for the firm, which conducts experiments on animals on behalf of pharmaceutical companies, admitted there had been a marked shift in the shareholder base from the UK to the US in the past few months since protesters had begun to target British backers. He said: "Intimidation, threats and blackmail by campaigners have resulted in people selling shares at a loss in the UK. Our people in the States are looking at the North American market and there have been some major purchases of shares there."

Earlier this year, pension fund manager Phillips & Drew sold its 10 per cent holding in Huntingdon after pressure from campaigners. In May, West LB Panmure resigned as stockbroker to the company after it received threats. Schroders also sold its 1.7 per cent shareholding earlier this year.

The campaign, headed by a group called Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, has contributed to an 84 per cent slide in its share price since March.

Mark Gregory, producer of a Money Programme film called "Animal Rights and Wrongs" to be shown on BBC2 on Wednesday, said: "We are seeing an entirely new phenomenon emerging. These protestors are not just targeting the company itself, they have begun to attack its entire financial base by targeting its shareholders and investors. They are trying to close down the company and have realised that the most likely route to success is through its pockets."

He added: "The campaign against Huntingdon is clearly a watershed case. The protestors are trying out new tactics, and if it works, this will be the tenor of future protesting."

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