UK – The two main coal industry pension schemes have raised their stakes in AEA Technology, part of the former state-owned Atomic Energy Authority which still has some nuclear business activities.

The regulatory disclosure by AEA follows a refinancing by the Didcot, Oxfordshire-based company earlier this month.

The £9.6bn (€14bn) British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme now has a total holding of 4.7m shares – up from 2.7m shares in February. And the £10.7bn mineworkers’ scheme’s holding has also risen, to 4.8m from 2.7m.

The two funds have a combined 14% stake in AEA, according to company filings.

In June AEA launched a £33m refinancing, via a placing and open offer of just over 50m new shares priced at 65p.

The proceeds were to be used to cut bank debt. AEA said they would not be used to reduce the deficit in the AEA Technology Pension Scheme.

AEA chairman Bernard Bulkin said: “The support of our shareholders and banks in refinancing this Company has been crucial.”

Meanwhile, AEA has told IPE of changes it has made to its pension arrangements.

“All employees in the pension scheme have chosen a new pensions package with effect from 1 July 2005,” said company secretary Keith Russell.

“They were given a number of options to choose from, designed to make the scheme more affordable given the rise in costs due to low bond yields and rising life expectancy.

“Choices involved variations of how much they paid by contributions, the benefits they would accrue in future, and the ability to stay in salaried employment for longer.”