UK Coal hews out a deal to dilute owners

Michael Bow
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SHAREHOLDERS in UK Coal, the biggest coal mining firm left in Britain, yesterday accepted plans to dilute their ownership of the company in a bid to save the firm and their investments.

UK Coal investors, including Peel Holdings, UBS and Pelham Capital, unanimously backed plans to isolate the mining part of the business and spin off its lucrative property assets. Investors will get a minority 24.9 per cent stake in the separated property company, forgoing their dominant ownership of UK Coal in return for profiting from sales of its extensive property assets. The deal is a last ditch attempt to salvage the firm which is drowning under an ocean of debt. Investors have seen shares in the firm crash from nearly £6 to just 5p since 2008. The firm also has a heavily indebted pension scheme. The plan gives the scheme majority control of the rest of the property business in a debt for equity deal.