Last week, Huntingdon Life Sciences left the London Stock Exchange as it prepares to move its stock listing to the U.S. NASDAQ where its shareholders will be afforded more protection from the animal rights terrorists who have plagued the company for the past few years. The move brought reactions from all of the different players in the HLS saga.
Not surprisingly, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty spokesman Joseph Dawson told Reuters that, “We will not stop until we have driven this disgusting firm out of business.” Of course given SHAC’s recent fortunes he might have wanted to add to that “or until we’re all in prison.”
Great Britain’s Home Office spoke out promising that it would not allow another testing firm to be hounded out of the country as HLS was. “We will not hesitate to take any further action to make sure that legitimate businesses are free to operate without fear of intimidation,” a spokeswoman for the Home Office said. Words are cheap, though. We’ll see how Great Britain reacts when the SHAC protesters inevitably turn their hostilities toward other companies.
Paul Drayson, chairman of the BioIndustry Association, said that the industry needs to deal with the anti-HLS thugs head on. “They’re bullies and . . . there’s only one way to deal with bullies,” Drayson said. “You stand up to them together.”
Drayson urged Great Britain to adopt U.S.-style disclosure rules where shareholders with less than a 5 percent stake in a company can remain anonymous. In Great Britain, the threshold is only three percent.
HLS managing director Brian Cass debunked a piece of nonsense that SHAC had been floating in the United States. SHAC has been sending out press releases claiming HLS’ listing on the NASDAQ over-the-counter bulletin board as Life Sciences is in danger because the company has been unable to find a market maker for the listing.
Cass described this as nonsense saying, “We needed a market maker to sponsor the submission of our listing request. But that has happened.” The companied does not need a market maker for NASDAQ’s over-the-counter bulletin board trading.
Call to shelter shareholders from extremists. Geoff Dyer, Patrick Jenkins, and Robert Shrimsley, The Financial Times (London), January 25, 2002.
UK says will defend firms as Huntingdon quits LSE. Mark Potter, Reuters, January 24, 2002.
Stand up to bullies says biotech chief. Rosie Murray-West, The Daily Telegraph (London), January 25, 2002.