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Monday, 24 December, 2001, 07:28 GMT
Animal lab firm to abandon London
Protesters at Huntingdon Life Sciences animal lab
Huntingdon Life Sciences labs: Target for protests
The controversial drug-testing firm Huntingdon Life Sciences has won approval to transform itself into a US-listed company, a report has said.

The company is fleeing the UK due to public and investor hostility to testing on animals.

Attitudes to the firm's research business are thought to be more lenient in the US, and there is greater shareholder privacy.

A shell company - Life Sciences Research - was created in October to facilitate the transformation.

With approval now granted by American regulators for the transformation, trading in the US company is scheduled to start on 24 January, the Financial Times said.

Driven away

The news heightened fears that UK protesters will drive overseas pharmaceutical research, deemed by vital the industry and the government.

Huntingdon Life Sciences has had trouble securing finance in the past, largely because investors feared retaliation from protesters.

Amid mounting demonstrations from anti-vivisectionists, extreme elements of which mounted physical attacks against HLS staff, a series of UK firms cut links with the company.

And the research firm revealed in July that it was relying on the government for banking facilities.

Seeking approval

The firm has been trying to persuade shareholders of the value of the move.

The company needed the support of more than half of its shareholders in order to satisfy the US regulatory body.

But the FT reported that only 86.9% of shareholders have backed the move.

And the company needs 90% before it can compel the remaining 10% to sell their shares so the move can go ahead.

Investors have been cheered by latest results which showed that the firm broke into a profit for the first time in four years.

See also:

09 Oct 01 | Business
Huntingdon agrees US buy out
28 Mar 01 | Business
Lab firm ditched by share brokers
22 Mar 01 | Business
Huntingdon unveils more losses
29 Jan 01 | Business
US group bails out Huntingdon
19 Jan 01 | Business
Research industry under threat
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