Uniq plans to hand 90% of its shares to its pension scheme in a dramatic bid to address the scheme’s £436m deficit.

The proposed “deficit for equity swap” would require approval from the Pensions Regulator, which in July turned down an earlier effort to tackle the shortfall.

The latest proposal could fall foul of regulations limiting how much a pension scheme can invest in its affiliated company. The Uniq scheme has around 21,000 members.

The news overshadowed an improved third-quarter performance by the group.

The sandwich maker is now valued at just £9m, although its share price rose by 7% in early trading today in the wake of its interim results.

Sales were up 9.9% over the equivalent period last year, with food-to-go up by 13%. But Uniq warned that price hikes in its desserts business, due to increased dairy costs, resulted in a “short-term negative impact on trading”.

“The improving performance of our businesses and the proposed final resolution of the legacy pension deficit through the deficit for equity swap will allow us to focus on creating value for the benefit of all our stakeholders, including the pension scheme as the majority shareholder,” said chief executive Geoff Eaton.

Read more
Salads and sandwiches help Uniq cut losses (22 July 2010)
Uniq shares slump after pension setback (20 July 2010)