- The Washington Times - Monday, January 1, 2007

Animal rights advocates are hailing a decision by the New York Stock Exchange to list a medical research company they targeted on a new electronic market where shares can be traded anonymously.

Life Sciences Research Inc., a Princeton, N.J., medical research firm that performs experiments on animals, announced Dec. 22 that it had settled a dispute with the NYSE and would be listed on the exchange’s new all-electronic trading platform called Arca.

“We’re thrilled,” company Chief Financial Officer Richard Michaelson said. “It is a totally anonymous trading environment,” he said. “In our situation, that is a big advantage.”

Life Sciences Research is the parent of British company Huntingdon Life Sciences and has been targeted on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean by animal rights activists organized under the name Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty.

The protests, which included sometimes violent campaigns of harassment against individual employees of the company and other firms that did business with it, were so successful that the NYSE pulled a planned listing on its main exchange last year, after activists threatened market-makers and other financial service providers.

As part of the deal for the Arca listing, Life Sciences Research agreed to drop its case against the NYSE over the pulled listing, Mr. Michaelson said.

The firm’s share price rose 40 percent in the first day’s trading, to more than $14, and closed Friday at $14.50.

Will Potter, an animal rights sympathizer and freelance journalist, said targeting the market-makers — financial middlemen who promise to buy a company’s shares at the prevailing price and make real-time trading possible on the pre-electronic Big Board — had been a big step forward for activists and had enabled them to stop the planned listing.

“That was what got the [animal research] industry really freaked out,” Mr. Potter said. “Once the activists started to understand how important the market-makers were … how the stock market actually worked … it was a real turning point.”

Campaigners also targeted businesses that provided financial, technical and other services to Life Sciences Research and threatened protests of the NYSE.

“That business savvy is the greatest threat they pose,” Mr. Potter said of the animal rights movement, adding that the anonymity Arca provided would close off some of those options.

President Bush at the end of November signed a law giving federal law-enforcement officials additional powers to surveil and prosecute campaigners who harass animal researchers and companies that do business with them. But the consensus among industry observers was that it was too early to tell how much difference it would make.

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