- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 8, 2005

NEW YORK (AP) — Executives of Life Sciences Research Inc., a medical research firm frequently targeted by animal rights activists, were having breakfast in the ornate dining room of the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday, excited about their new listing on the Big Board.

But at 8:40 a.m., they were told by NYSE officials that the listing was to be postponed. And no reason was given.

“I would love to know why,” said Richard Michaelson, the company’s chief financial officer, who was at the stock exchange that morning. “They have told us nothing.”

Officials at the New York Stock Exchange refused repeated requests for comment, other than to confirm that LSR’s listing had been postponed.

But the company, its current market maker on the over-the-counter electronic bulletin board trading system, and a U.S. senator think the NYSE may have been threatened by animal rights activists who have dogged the company’s activities — and those of its partners in the financial services industry — for years.

“We’ve been LSR’s market maker for three years, and we’ve put up with a substantial, huge amount of what the FBI classifies as domestic terrorism,” said Stephan “Skip” Boruchin, managing director of Legacy Trading Co. in Edmond, Okla., which facilitates electronic trading of LSR’s current stock. “We have had our windows broken, paint thrown into our offices, defacing our houses. My 90-year-old mother received letters calling me a puppy killer.”

Controversy long has surrounded LSR. The company’s testing includes the use of animals, which has drawn the wrath of animal rights activists who say the company is killing thousands of animals needlessly each year.

Activists have gone so far as to target company employees with hate mail, death threats and even beatings. It got so bad that the company, formerly Huntingdon Life Sciences, relocated from Cambridgeshire, England, to East Millstone, N.J., in 2002.

But the NYSE’s postponement is unusual. Big Board officials like to call an NYSE listing the “gold standard” for public companies. Regulatory requirements for NYSE-listed companies are often more stringent than for those listed on other exchanges, and companies applying for listing are vetted thoroughly.

LSR’s finances and its business practices appeared to pass the test. NYSE President Catherine Kinney was quoted in LSR’s Aug. 22 press release announcing the listing.

That makes the NYSE’s abrupt postponement — unprecedented in recent memory for the 213-year-old exchange — all the more unusual. NYSE spokesman Ray Pellecchia confirmed yesterday that LSR’s new listing was postponed, but would not comment further.

“It is frustrating, really hugely disappointing, to not know the issue for this re-examination, if that’s what it is, or the criteria upon which they’ll ultimately make a decision,” Mr. Michaelson said. “They have not raised anything in terms of a change in the circumstances of the company.”

He suspects that animal rights activists may have made threats or otherwise changed the NYSE’s thinking. Mr. Pellecchia had no comment, but the NYSE’s decision drew comment from Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, who sent a letter to exchange officials yesterday.

“It seems to be unimaginable that this country’s worldwide symbol of the integrity of the capital markets, the NYSE, would capitulate to threats, or even the mere threat of threats, from a single-issue extremist group,” Mr. Inhofe wrote.

LSR, which closely monitors the Web sites and activities of its opponents, said at least one group had started a campaign against the NYSE for agreeing to list the company’s stock.

On the Web site of the activist group Win Animal Rights, or W.A.R., a link off the camouflage-pattern home page led to a page titled “Puppy Killers on the New York Stock Exchange.”

Readers are encouraged to write “polite letters and e-mails and make polite phone calls” to the exchange. The exchange’s address and phone numbers are listed, with the names and work numbers of two members of the public relations department.

W.A.R. co-founder Camille Hankins confirmed that an unknown number of W.A.R. supporters made calls to the exchange. Ms. Hankins said she does not advocate threats or violence, and she urged her members to be reasonable and make well-informed arguments against LSR. But she said she had no control over what others might do.

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