Animal testing firm blames activism for NYSE holdup

EAST MILLSTONE, NJ: The New York Stock Exchange has postponed listing a company that conducts product safety testing on animals, and executives believe the decision resulted directly from a campaign by an animal activist group.

EAST MILLSTONE, NJ: The New York Stock Exchange has postponed listing a company that conducts product safety testing on animals, and executives believe the decision resulted directly from a campaign by an animal activist group.

"There's never been ambiguity on what the larger issue was," said Richard Michaelson, CFO of Life Sciences Research, who added that he has had numerous discussions with NYSE officials.

He also suggested that the decision was more about the negative publicity around the company, rather than any question of its business practices.

"I don't think anyone has raised a question about the credibility of the campaign against us versus the work that we do," he said. "We operate by the highest standards ... of animal welfare."

Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) - so named because Life Sciences Research has its headquarters in Huntingdon, UK - has one mission: to put the company out of business by targeting its employees and customers.

Its tactics, which have received considerable media attention, have included violence, threats, and property damage.

An e-mail message to SHAC, which does not have a listed phone number, was not returned by press time.

But on its US website, SHAC posted the phone numbers and e-mail addresses of NYSE officials, and urged supporters to continue to press the issue.

NYSE media relations manager Christiaan Brakman confirmed that the listing had been postponed, but refused to comment on the reason or any other aspects of the situation.

Michaelson noted that Life Sciences Research hasn't waged a counter-campaign.

"There's a stampede going on here, and I'm trying to be constructive," he said about the press attention. "This story is so much bigger than my little company. We may have become a poster child for this issue, but we're not a spokesperson for [it]."

Fred Bratman, Hyde Park Financial Communications president, said such an abrupt refusal to list a company is "very rare."

"I can't recall another situation where, at the 11th hour, any major exchange blocked a company from a listing," he said.

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