By Nuala Moran

BioWorld International Correspondent

LONDON ¿ Huntingdon Life Sciences plc (HLS), a drug-testing company that has been targeted by animal rights activists, will delist from the London Stock Exchange and move trading on its stock to the U.S.

The move is an attempt to protect the directors and shareholders from the activists who have conducted a prolonged, and at times violent, campaign to close the company down.

CEO Brian Cass said the U.S. financial markets have a better understanding of the contract research sector, and he has been investigating ways of moving the main trading platform to the U.S for some time. ¿Additionally, we would like to provide more privacy and trading opportunities for our shareholders.¿

A new U.S corporate legal structure has been created, called Life Sciences Research Inc. (LSR), which has made a formal offer to HLS shareholders to exchange shares in HSL for shares in LSR. Upon approval, HLS directors will become directors of LSR, based in Maryland, and the company will be listed on Nasdaq.

Cass said this would provide ¿a more secure and enlightened financial environment for our shareholders.¿ He hopes the move will make the shares liquid again. Market makers in the UK withdrew share-trading facilities earlier this year after being targeted by activists. The company will continue to trade as HLS, and will not move its operations away from the current headquarters in Huntington, UK.

LSR was created by a group of private investors who have put in $1.5 million to finance the deal. If it goes through, existing shareholders in HLS will own 84.5 percent of LSR; the new investors will own the remainder.