UK Coal teeters on brink ahead of crunch vote

Michael Bow
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UK COAL, the biggest coal miner left in the UK, will today face a crunch shareholder vote on plans to restructure the firm amid management warnings failure to approve the plan will force the company out of business by early next year.

The firm’s shareholder base will meet in Doncaster, South Yorkshire at 11am to vote on plans to move the company from a ‘premium’ listing in London to a standard listing, which will allow the firm to bypass shareholder approval to restructure the business.

Management has warned failure to approve the resolution would see the firm go bust by the end of the first quarter of 2013. The firm has to service its debt pile by the end of December and has warned it could fall into administration “within weeks” if its plans are voted down.

Last night a spokesman for the firm told City A.M.: “It’s a legitimate possibility the firm could go into administration, that’s how serious it is. The restructuring is essential and is vital for the future of the business.”

The company, led by chairman Jonson Cox, wants to split the company into separate coal and property arms under a new holding company Coalfield Resources Plc, and says a standard listing would allow this to be done more cheaply and quickly.

It is hoped the plan will help the firm offload its heavily indebted pension scheme, which has a deficit of £430m, into the Pension Protection Fund, the lifeboat fund for bankrupt company schemes. The top three shareholders in the firm are Peel’s Goodweather Holdings, UBS and Pelham Capital. “There’s been strong support and a good understanding of why we have to do,” the spokesman said. “We hope the right decision is made.”

The firm operates three mines – two in Yorkshire and one in and Warwickshire, which could be closed by the firm.