NU Online News Service, Dec. 28, 2004, 3:43 p.m. EST

A large Chattanooga, Tenn., disability insurer says it is leaving its capital-raising options open.[@@]

UnumProvident Corp. is filing a Form S-3 shelf registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Large companies file shelf registration statements, or registration statements not tied to specific plans to raise capital, to avoid lengthy bureaucratic delays when they do want to raise capital.

UnumProvident is paying off existing debt and recently announced a package of multistate agreements that could cost it about $127 million. But the company is filing its shelf registration statement mainly to give itself flexibility in managing its capital structure, UnumProvident Chairman Thomas Watjen says in a statement.

“We presently have no near-term intention to utilize the shelf as we intend to pay off the $227 million of debt maturities in 2005 with cash currently on hand at the holding company,” Watjen says in the statement. “With the retirement of this debt, our next unfunded debt maturity will not occur until 2011.”

The new shelf registration statement authorizes UnumProvident to raise capital by selling common stock, preferred stock, debt securities, depository shares or warrants.