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Tuesday, 1 May, 2001, 18:26 GMT 19:26 UK
UK drugs firms issue warning to banks
Animal rights activists target Huntingdon Life Sciences
Banks have severed links with HLS, after threats from animal rights activists
Britain's pharmaceuticals industry has threatened that it might close accounts with banks and financial institutions that cave in to threats from animal rights protesters.

The move follows a number of high profile financial institutions severing links with the drugs-testing firm Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) after it was targeted by animal rights activists.

"If they are not prepared to support a member of our industry [HLS], we must ask if they are the people we should rely on for advice and to invest our cash," said Trevor Jones, director-general of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).

The drugs companies are now said to be actively canvassing promises of support from city institutions holding their money.

If bankers fail to give the necessary assurances, then there is the possibility that the pharmaceuticals companies will withdraw their accounts.

Banks run scared

Last week, an umbrella group of medical research charities pulled its funds out of HSBC, after the bank refused to handle shares in Huntingdon Life Sciences.

The Association of Medical Research Charities has 112 members with assets of about 16bn.

Investors such as Citibank, Charles Schwab, Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein and HSBC have all cut ties with Huntingdon following pressure from animal rights groups.

The bankers withdrew their support over fears of fire-bomb attacks and death threats to employees

Shares in the drug-testing firm have plunged, losing four-fifths of their value over the past two years, as financial backers and customers walked away.

Earlier this year, the Arkansas-based investment firm Stephens Group, announced that it was the mystery backer that had come to HLS's rescue.

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29 Jan 01 | Business
US group bails out Huntingdon
28 Mar 01 | Business
Lab firm ditched by share brokers
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