Sunday, 26th September
Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, a global animal rights group whose sole aim is to close down animal testing laboratory Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), has today announced it will target all companies linked to Fortress Investment Group LLC, in particular those who are considering assisting Fortress with their upcoming re-financing.
The news comes after the revelation that Fortress are seeking $440million in a pair of loans to re-finance the company due to increasing debt. Fortress have been deemed a top priority target by SHAC after it became known that they had secretly loaned $70million to HLS in 2006 after Stephens Inc. pulled out, which as a result kept the 7 times exposed animal testing facility open throughout severe financial difficulties during the past few years, helping to fund the continuation of the torture and deaths of over 600,000 animals.
The $70million loan provided by Fortress remains essential for HLS to continue; without it, they would have been crippled by staggering debt and forced to liquidate years ago. As a result, SHAC intend to step up their campaign against Fortress, and will start to pressure them from all angles possible - including targeting the companies who are helping Fortress with their re-financing efforts.
A Bloomberg source indicates that Barclays, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup Inc. are among the companies currently considering arranging loans to Fortress. SHAC have already targeted some of these companies in the past; Barclays were once a major HLS shareholder but sold all shares following relentless pressure from the campaign. HLS were later de-listed from the NYSE after a combination of failing to meet basic listing requirements and the forced decision to buy themselves out and become a private company to avoid closure. HLS' own financial report filed with the SEC disguised under the name 'Project Atlantic' and the 'Plymouth Report', detailed the abysmal picture of HLS and the enormous effect of the SHAC campaign on their daily operation as a business.
"Fortress are clearly in financial difficulties, which gives them even more reason to retract their million dollar loan from Huntingdon Life Sciences," says Clare Thompson, a SHAC spokesperson. "Fortress are keeping this vile laboratory up and running despite going against all business sense. It is our mission to remove this financial support by targeting Fortress by any legal avenue possible, even if it means disrupting their $440million loan re-financing. Any company that helps Fortress are likely to be a target for the campaign."
"Fortress have foolishly loaned a company which has no ability to operate as a regular business; HLS have had to sell their own property and rent it back, they face increasing staff cuts, and in 2009 had to buy out the company themselves to stop it going under, at the cost of an additional $100million in debt. Their own MD, Brian Cass has described their future as 'uncertain'. Of course, when a company has been exposed seven times in just over a decade for repeated animal cruelty, fraudulent experimental data and staff incompetence, it comes as no surprise that they are not a sound investment for anybody with business sense.
While Fortress are not retracting their loan facilities and demanding that Huntingdon pay back the loan immediately and in full, they will stay as our number one target. We will not hesitate to target Fortress and all associated companies, particularly those providing Fortress with essential financial assistance."
This on top of Fortress Investment Group LLC once again electing not to pay shareholders for a ninth quarter. With no dividend to shareholders for over two years, you can expect shareholders to start asking some serious questions about the financial capability of Fortress? Fortress last paid a dividend in July 2008. As of 30th June 2010, Fortress had $167.5 million in cash and $356 million in debt obligations.
Maybe it's time to get rid of some of your 'bad' loans like HLS and use that money instead to clear your debts Fortress?
For more information, about SHAC, Fortress, HLS and the campaign to close HLS, please email us.