XTL executives say rebels are 'opportunistic'

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Renegade shareholders plotting to oust the executive team at XTL Biopharmaceuticals are "opportunistic financiers" planning to take control of the company's cash and assets to make a quick profit, the Israeli biotech group said yesterday.

The company has been forced to put the rebel shareholders' requests to a rescheduled annual meeting next month, but set out a robust response in a letter to shareholders.

Shore Capital, a combative City investment boutique, has amassed a 17 per cent stake and says it wants the company - which is trying to develop a treatment for hepatitis C - to slash executive pay and other costs to avoid running out of money.

XTL argues Shore would find it difficult to shut down or sell the drug development business as it plans, since these would require the agreement of scientists and developers and may trigger the repayment of grants to the Israeli government.

XTL shares have jumped from 6p when Shore began stakebuilding earlier this month, but were down 0.25p at 9.75p yesterday.