Embattled drugs testing company, Huntingdon Life Sciences, secured its financial lifeline last week only by persuading the Financial Services Authority to waive a rule requiring companies to disclose names of lenders in annual reports.
Run by accountants Brian Cass and Andrew Baker, managing director and chairman respectively, HLS took the unusual step to ensure its US backers remained anonymous as animal rights protestors stepped up their campaign against the company.
An FSA spokesman would not confirm details but said that in general such waivers were granted to a company in ‘severe financial distress’ where disclosure would be seriously detrimental to the company and that the omission of such information would not mislead the market.
The Royal Bank of Scotland, which wrote off £11.6m as part of the deal, last week suffered demonstrations outside its London and Edinburgh offices. Protestors, led by Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, have now set their sights on HLS’ customers including GlaxoSmithKline. Deloitte & Touche, Huntingdon’s auditor, declined to say whether it had stepped up security at its offices in the face of possible protests.
Company information for HLS can be viewed at www.huntingdon.com.
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