Uniq proposes deal to plug £400 million pensions deficit

Uniq has proposed a solution for the deficit of its final salary pension scheme.

The proposal from the chilled convenience food group has been cleared by The Pensions Regulator but is subject to approval by shareholders and the sanction of the High Court.

The pension trustee has agreed to release Uniq from its pension debt in exchange for a 90.2% shareholding in the organisation and a cash payment to the pension scheme of £14 million. The proposal removes the substantial pension buy-out deficit of more than £400 million from the organisation.

A new £25 million bank facility will be made available conditional upon the scheme of arrangement becoming effective. The existing shareholders will retain 9.8% of the firm following the restructuring.

The pension trustee and the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) have stated their intention to review opportunities and strategies to realise all or part of the 90.2% shareholding in the firm.

Geoff Eaton, chief executive at Uniq, said: “Gaining clearance from The Pensions Regulator for the proposed restructuring is the result of over 18 months’ hard work.

“The pension solution will release the business from the huge legacy pension burden, while realising the best possible outcome for pension members and achieving some value for our shareholders.”

Chris Martin, chairman of the trustee at Independent Trustee Services, added: “After an exhaustive process, throughout which we have worked closely with our advisory team, the trustee board has concluded the proposed restructuring is the best outcome possible for the pension scheme.

“The trustee has been focused entirely on securing the highest benefits affordable for our 21,000 members.”

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