Gui Zhen Tang drops IPO amid bile debate

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Animal rights activists in China have pledged to continue their campaign against bear bile products after a manufacturer scrapped its initial public offering due to a public outcry over alleged animal cruelty.

Gui Zhen Tang, a pharmaceutical company in Fujian province, is among 269 companies that have pulled out of the examination process for IPOs this year, the China Securities Regulatory Commission said on Friday.

Founded in 2000, the company turned a profit by taking and processing bear bile for medical powders, capsules and other products. It owns the largest black bear breeding center in southern China.

In February 2012, Gui Zhen Tang appeared on the commission's list of companies awaiting approval to trade on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange's Growth Enterprise Board.

It has received a great deal of criticism from celebrities and NGOs over extracting bile from live bears.

On Sunday, the company said it had applied to withdraw application documents and terminated the plan to go public, but added that it will consider applying for an IPO again in the future, Shanghai Securities News reported.

In early April, the company suspended the examination process for its IPO, saying the company needed to spend more time to prepare related documents.

Animal rights groups hailed the result of Gui Zhen Tang's IPO application, which they said shows increased awareness of animal protection.

Zhang Dan, founder of the NGO China Animal Protection Media Salon, said the campaign against Gui Zhen Tang had received "massive public support".

Although Gui Zhen Tang stated that it was granted farming and manufacturing licenses from Fujian's wildlife authority, Zhang said its expanded business and products made from bear bile far exceeded the scope of these legal permits.

"Our final goal is to ensure the bear bile industry is banned in China," said Zhang.

Animals Asia Foundation, a main opponent of Gui Zhen Tang's IPO application, said on Monday that government should draw up a plan to ban the bear bile industry in three to five years.

Zhang Xiaohai, head of the foundation, said the campaign to protect black bears was far from over, as Gui Zhen Tang and similar companies had expanded the scope of their business.

"The campaign was not aimed at any particular company, but the whole industry, which should be under government effective supervision," he said.

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