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Planet Ark World Environment News New York Stock Exchange says Still Reviewing Life Sciences Listing

Date: 27-Oct-05
Country: USA
Author: Karey Wutkowski

Richard P. Bernard, general counsel for the NYSE, apologized to Life Sciences Research Inc. for the timing of the postponement, which some said came after pressure from animal rights activists.

"We got our cart before the horse," he said.

Bernard did not explain the reasoning behind the postponement, saying that confidentiality rules prevented him from doing so.

Shares of Life Sciences, now the parent company of British-based Huntingdon Life Sciences, which conducts government-required animal testing on drugs and chemicals, were due to start trading on the NYSE on September 7.

Mark Bibi, general counsel for Life Sciences, testified at a Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works hearing on Wednesday that he met with NYSE officials on September 7 and that they spoke only about the animal rights campaign from the group Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC).

"It was patently clear to me that the only reason the NYSE postponed our listing was because of concerns about the SHAC campaign," Bibi said.

The Senate hearing was held to discuss "eco-terrorism" and specifically the impact SHAC has had on the business community and employees' safety.

Bibi said there has been a clear negative impact from the NYSE's postponement.

On the day before the postponement, shares of Life Sciences closed at $17.50 per share on the Over the Counter Bulletin Board. The shares have since traded as low as $8 per share.

The stock closed Wednesday at $12.25 per share.

"The investment community is losing faith in the stock exchange doing the right thing," Bibi said.

Senator Frank Lautenberg told Bernard during the hearing that it is within the Senate's power to subpoena NYSE records, but did not say it would do so.

He questioned if there is any reason not to list Life Sciences.

"The exchange has the right, under rules approved by the SEC, to bring in other factors to determine a listing," Bernard said.

A predecessor of Life Sciences, Huntingdon Life Sciences Group plc, was previously listed on the NYSE for 12 years, starting in 1989. It was delisted in December 2000 for failure to meet the exchange's financial listing requirements.

At the time, the company indicated that the financial downturn was due to "economic terrorism" by animal rights activists, Bernard said in his testimony.

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