A&O, Addleshaws, Nabarro advise as UK Coal files for administration

Nabarro has retained its role as lead adviser to UK Coal after the struggling company filed for administration, with administrators at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) turning to Addleshaw Goddard.

Glen Flannery
Glen Flannery

PwC partners David Kelly, Robert Hebenton and Ian Green were appointed as administrators to UK Coal today (9 July) by order of Birmingham High Court after an application by UK Coal directors. Addleshaws partners Andrew Smith and Graham Briggs were instructed to advise the administrators.

Following the appointment, the administrators immediately completed a restructuring of the majority of the company’s business and assets, establishing a new company called UK Coal Production as well as a number of trading subsidiaries.

Nabarro insolvency partner Glen Flannery, corporate partner Ben Hendry and pensions partner Ian Greenstreet were all involved in acting for UK Coal, maintaining the firm’s longstanding relationship with the company.

The restructuring included an agreement with the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) under which the fund will retain economic benefit in UK Coal through substitute debt instruments. PwC said negotiations are ongoing for the sale of the interests of the shares of UK Coal Mining Holdings, a new holding company for UK Coal Production and its trading subsidiaries, to an employee benefits trust.

Allen & Overy won the role to act for the PPF, with its team led by restructuring partner Ian Field alongside fellow partners Andrew Joyce, Don McGown, Neil Bowden and Matthew Townsend.

According to a PwC statement, the restructuring preserved 2,000 jobs across the group, including 120 miners from the Daw Mill mine which closed in March following a fire. A further 280 Daw Mill workers are being made redundant, and 90 have already left the company prior to the administration.

PwC’s Kelly said in a statement: “The impact of the Daw Mill fire could not have been predicted and led to major losses for UK Coal. Since then, the management team and key stakeholders have been working to find a solution to save the business, and this would not have been possible without the support of the Pension Protection Fund, customers, suppliers, all parts of Government, unions, employees and their families.

“This deal represents the best outcome for the creditors who would have lost virtually everything if operations had ceased trading.”

Background to this deal:

Nabarro’s relationship with UK Coal stretches back many years. Last year the firm advised UK Coal on a restructuring which split the business into three, moving from a premium to standard listing and restructuring its pension scheme (1 July 2013). The deal saw Nabarro third-placed in the Restructuring Team of the Year category at The Lawyer Awards 2013.

Addleshaws has acted for PwC on several previous restructurings, including the 2009 administration of menswear chain Officers Club (12 January 2009).

The PPF is in the final stages of finalising its new-look panel, which is being cut down from 27 firms to a main panel of three (2 May 2013).