Creditors Set To Vote On Patriot Coal Bankruptcy Exit Plan
November 19, 2013
Patriot Coal Corp. announced that it is currently on pace to emerge from protection under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy law by the end of the year. The announcement follows a U.S. Bankruptcy Court’s ruling approving the company’s disclosure statement and allowing the company to solicit votes from its various classes on creditors on the approval of its proposed plan of reorganization. In the recent ruling, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Missouri confirmed that the company’s proposed disclosure statement contained the necessary information needed to solicit votes from the creditors, and also affirmed that the company may move forward with its proposed rights offering. Further, the court approved an agreement among Patriot Coal, Barclays Bank, and Deutsche Bank, under which the financial institutions will provide $576 million in exit financing and post-emergence credit. The court’s ruling was viewed as a major milestone in Patriot’s long-awaited exit from bankruptcy, following months of wrangling with union employees in disputes that included worker strikes, lengthy negotiations, and cost-cutting measures. Earlier in the year, the court gave the company permission to dissolve collective bargaining agreements and drastically cut worker benefits. Under the coal company’s proposed plan, retiree benefits will be reduced, and existing employees may face cuts in salary, vacation time, and other benefits. Additionally, the company will no longer directly manage employee health benefits, which will instead be transferred to an outside trust, according to Reuters. “Today’s actions by the court represent important milestones on Patriot’s path to emergence as a strong, well-capitalized competitor in the coal industry,” said Patriot president and CEO Bennett Hatfield. “Taken together, the Rights Offering and the settlements with Peabody and Arch lay the foundation for completion of our exit financing in the next few weeks. We remain on schedule for emergence from bankruptcy in mid to late December.” The agreement also allows for a rights offering backstopped by Knighthead Capital Management, which is expected to raise roughly $250 million in new capital.