Phytopharm stock dives after bomb target broker quits

Shares in drugs company Phytopharm fell sharply after animal rights activists scared off its broker.

Canaccord Capital resigned as broker to Phytopharm yesterday – less than a month after a firebomb attack targeted its European finance director.

A website linked to the Animal Liberation Front claimed responsibility for planting the incendiary device which set fire to Michael Kendall’s car. The ALF says Phytopharm has links with animal testing group Huntington Life Sciences. HSL is a long-standing target for protesters.

‘If you support or raise funds for any company connected with HLS we will track you down, come for you, and destroy your property by fire’, the website posting said. ‘ You, too, are on the hit list; you have been warned.’

Canaccord’s resignation sent shares in Phytopharm down to 96.5p from 112.5p. A spokesman said: ‘We are looking for another broker and getting on with our lives’.

Peter Brown, Canaccord chairman and chief executive said: ‘Our priority at this stage is to protect our personnel following an attack on one of our senior members of staff. Although we believe that Phytopharm is a high quality company and an innocent victim in this issue, Canaccord regrets having to resign its position as the company’s joint broker.’

Phytopharm denies any connection with HLS. It develops medicines from plants and ancient remedies. It. attracted the attention of animal rights activists because of a now defunct deal with Yamanouchi Pharmaceuticals which protesters say has links with HLS.

The City has grown worried about radical protesters since they drove HLS off the London stock market to the US in 2002. Glaxo chief Jean-Pierre Gamier has warned that the zealots are driving research and jobs out of Britain.