The SHAC campaign was formed in November 1999 with the aim of closing down Europe’s largest animal testing lab Huntingdon Life Sciences.
The SHAC campaign has used a wide variety of tactics against HLS and all the companies supporting them with devastating success. HLS has seen one company after another desert them rather than be associated with the animal killers once their involvement with them has been highlighted.
SHAC receives much support from within companies associated with HLS from staff who disagree with their company being involved with HLS, and over and over again SHAC are contacted by sympathisers disgusted at HLS's record of animal cruelty and wanting to help in any way they can.
We strongly believe that you are either with us or against us. You either want life or death for the animals inside Huntingdon. The same people who are against us now would have criticised the campaigns against Apartheid, Poll Tax and many other just causes.
Those who freed slaves over 100 years ago and the suffragettes who fought for womens’ right to vote didn’t ask for their rights and freedoms by saying “Please sir…” Instead they fought hard with many personal sacrifices and they won.
After emerging from spending 27 years in prison in South Africa while thousands of his fellow campaigners had been massacred by the South African state, Nelson Mandela didn’t go on to state that he thought they had got it wrong and that they should have done things by the parliamentary route, for he knew that those who advocate this are naïve fools who achieve nothing.
We say to our critics, what have you achieved after more than 150 years of doing things by official channels? Our message is simple: “You waste your time talking to liars with a vested interest if you want, but we will carry on saving lives, closing places, decimating animal abusers and winning.”
Taking on Huntingdon was a brave and massive step up from the previous campaigns. From the beginning the campaign has focused on Huntingdon’s finances and those who financially support them.
A brief history of who has pulled out of HLS can be found by clicking here.
"Huntingdon have shown the rest of UK Plc how not to do it"
- Investors Chronicle Magazine
In early January 2000 we obtained a copy of the list of largest shareholders in HLS. The difference from this copy to the previous ones was that it contained all the beneficial owners of HLS shares. In brief – many shareholders hold their shares in the name of a third party called a nomine - they do this to remain anonymous.
These anonymous shareholders are called the beneficiaries. On this list of the beneficiaries were some very interesting names including The Labour Party pension fund, Rover cars Pension fund and Camden council PF. We leaked this information to the press and in Feb 2000 the Sunday Telegraph ran it as its main story on the front page. Days later the labour Party ditched their HLS shares. Numerous demonstrations ensued in the following days all around the country outside the offices of the beneficiary companies.
Two weeks later the nominee company Phillips and Drew of London placed all their HLS shares up for sale, totalling 32 million on the London Stock exchange for just 1p. This sent the share price crashing to an all time low. Huntingdon’s share price crash is one of the most spectacular in recent times standing at just over £3-60 a decade ago and now at the equivalent of 4p in October 2002. This set the pace for the rest of the campaign that has seen all the four main high street banks in the UK publicly distance themselves from Huntingdon leaving the British Banking Association stating: “HLS are in a nightmare situation.”
In June 2000 Huntingdon’s corporate broker West LB Panmure ditched Huntingdon. When Huntingdon’s marketing director Andrew Gay was asked for a comment on the news that West L:B had pulled he said “I didn’t even know they had.”
In late 2000 it was becoming increasingly clear that since the Natwest bank had been taken over by the Royal Bank of Scotland they were very keen to sever their £12 million loan facility with HLS. The problem was compounded when on December 27th HLS were thrown off the New York Stock Exchange with the NYSE stating “We didn’t accept the company's business plan.”
In the first three weeks of 2001 it was now obvious to everyone that The Royal Bank of Scotland were fully intent on ditching Huntingdon. As the days dragged on towards the deadline of 21st of January there were signs that Huntingdon were heading towards liquidation. Huntingdon were forced to tour the world with a begging bowl and were met according to Brian Cass with the words “You cannot be serious.”
"We don't have a bank, we don't have a listing and everybody views us as a pariah"
- Andrew Baker, Chairman of Huntingdon Life Sciences
By the 18th of January the government was forced to act with the unelected Lord Sainsbury helping to broker an eleventh hour deal with the American bank Stephens. Huntingdon could not repay the Natwest bank the £12 million and the RBS were so desperate to get rid of Huntingdon they treacherously wrote off this £12 million for just one pound. At this point Huntingdon were full of themselves in the press crowing that they had a deal to secure their future lasting five years.
The crowing didn’t last long however as things got steadily worse for them with the flood of major financial institutions ditching Huntingdon growing stronger.
The most severe blow to Huntingdon came in a 24 hour period from the 29th of March 2001 which saw Huntingdon lose both their market makers and get forced off the main trading platform of the London Stock Exchange. It was the loss of these market makers and the refusal of any others to step in that forced Huntingdon to move their financial headquarters to the US as the trading of their shares in the UK was becoming next to impossible due to the relentless pressure of the campaign.
By this time Huntingdon had long since given up any hope of controlling their own share price. This is the first time a company’s share price had effectively been in the control of activists.The remainder of 2001 saw Huntingdon lose a welter of financial companies and saw their debt pile increase yet again. In the Autumn of 2001 SHAC USA completed a massive campaign against all of Huntingdon’s market makers seeing all eight pull out by mid October leaving their proposed move to a stock listing to the US in tatters.
"If we move off the UK exchange to the US [SHAC] have effectively won"
- Brian Cass, Managing Director of Huntingdon Life Sciences
The start of 2002 started spectacularly with Stephens ditching Huntingdon less than a year into a five year deal that Huntingdon had crowed secured their future, yet here we were less than 12 months later and they were gone.Warren Stephens had repeatedly criticised other larger financial institutions for pulling out after pressure from SHAC yet here he was doing exactly the same.
Early 2002 saw Huntingdon finally incorporate themselves into the shell company Life Science Research and move their financial listing exclusively to the US. Huntingdon had said previously this would never happen with Brian Cass the MD of Huntingdon going so far as to state “If we move off the UK exchange to the US they (SHAC) have effectively won.”
By mid 2002 we believe that the financial campaign had been effectively won with the only people now prepared to put money into Huntingdon being the directors themselves who in March 2002 were forced to pump in over $7 million of their own money. Out of all the tens of thousands of banks and financial institutions world wide Huntingdon cannot find just one to lend them more money.
In September 2005, HLS were minutes from being listed on the NYSE. Brian Cass flew over to New York, and the Directors were at the stock exchange drinking champaign after being welcomed with banners. However just 45 minutes before the listing, the NYSE changed their mind, causing extreme embarrassment making headlines around the world.
In 2006, Huntingdon’s only US Market Maker Legacy Trading dropped HLS, causing them to drop from the Over the Counter Bulletin Board (OTCBB) to the Pink Sheets.
Throughout 2006, there was further pressure added to Huntingdon’s Market Makers on the Pink Sheets who all dropped HLS, seeing them fall to the lowest point, the Grey Markets.
Also in 2006 we were leaked the details of Huntingdon’s US auditor who had been allowed up to that point by the US Government to give a false name and their details were uncovered.
15 months after the New York Stock Exchange dumped HLS, they decided to side with the puppy killers at Huntingdon Life Sciences. On Dec 22nd 2006 they tried to sneak Huntingdon onto the newly formed NYSE Arca exchange which had only been created that very day. NYSE Arca is not the main floor of the NYSE but is a fully electronic and supposedly anonymous (Anonymous? This is SHAC you are dealing with) exchange.
The NYSE had completed their merger with Archipelago to form the NYSE group (This merger is where the NYSE Arca came from) the NYSE has now merged with Euronext (the combined exchanges of Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam) to form NYSE Euronext. As the NYSE strives to become the first global stock exchange they've come to hit SHAC head on who are already truly global. For a company that trades on average a pathetic one thousand shares a day I hope it was all worth it NYSE.
Don't underestimate the importance of this battle as it is central to Huntingdon's survival. Why else do you think they strive a NYSE listing so much? An NYSE listing equals a financial future for them and them losing that does not bear thinking about for Huntingdon.
Watch this space!
Please note that SHAC does not encourage or incite illegal activities.