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F&C’s green team act on bird flu drug

F&C’s socially-responsible team has asked a maker of the anti-bird flu drug to consider its licensing position to allow other companies to make the drug.

The threat of a bird flu pandemic has led to large-scale buying of anti-flu drug Tamiflu, raising the share price of Swiss maker Roche to record levels. But Roche faces pressure to allow other companies to manufacture the drug in the event of a crisis.

F&C socially-responsible investment analyst Olivia Lankester flew out last week to consult on licensing issues with the firm. Panic-buying of Tamiflu has followed reports of human casualties in Thailand and the finding of infected birds in Turkey and Romania. This week, it was confirmed that a parrot imported to the UK from South America has died in quarantine from the H5N1 strain of bird flu, which is potentially lethal to humans.

F&C director of governance and socially-responsible investment Robert Barrington says: “It is often counter-intuitive for pharmaceutical companies to open up licensing arrangements but the question is what are the circumstances in which it is sensible or in shareholders’ long-term interests to do so?”

Gaeia Partnership director Brigid Benson says: “This is a good thing as long as a fair price can be agreed. The thorny issue is that companies who paid for the original research do not want to let it go too cheaply. However, with the HIV crisis in Africa, these kinds of efforts should not just be made for pandemics affecting the West.”


Zeros ‘set for comeback’

The zero-dividend preference share market continues to throw up opportunities despite shrinking by a quarter in the last three years, says F&C. The asset class has fallen out of favour since the high-profile problems in the split-capital investment trust market, shrinking from 2.7bn in 2002 to 2.1bn in 2005, but new zeros are now being […]

RBS offers pre-approved funding levels

Royal Bank of Scotland is speeding up its commercial property transaction procedure in anticipation of a pre A-Day rush. RBS is offering pre-approved funding levels for commercial property investments into self-administered schemes, in conjunction with James Hay, Westerbys and Merchant Investors. The bank will marry IFAs with lenders, with RBS assessing loan feasibility. Through its […]

Leitch teams up with Zurich allies

Ex-Zurich chief executive Sandy Leitch has teamed up with his former Zurich allies to launch a new 30m multi-tie proposition in the new year. Lord Leitch’s comeback venture, revealed in Money Marketing two weeks ago, aims to capture 1,000 advisers in the next four to five years and has secured 30m funding from backers, including […]

India to the fore

India’s rapid economic growth looks set to continue, making it an attractive prospect for the investor


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