Coal Tattoo

Alpha: Running right to bankruptcy court?


It may only be a matter of time before Alpha Natural Resources seeks bankruptcy court protection. As the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week:

Alpha Natural Resources Inc. is in talks to obtain financing for a potential bankruptcy filing early next month as it grapples with a severe downturn in coal prices, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Bristol, Va., coal miner is negotiating the terms of a “debtor in possession” loan with its loan holders and senior bondholders, the people said. The new financing would help see Alpha through bankruptcy should it file for chapter 11 protection in early August, around the time some of its convertible bonds come due, the people said.

The loan could total around $300 million to $400 million, one of the people said. Jointly providing the loan could align the interests of the two creditor classes, potentially smoothing Alpha Natural’s efforts to restructure its debt.

This morning, the Gazette’s Dr. Paul Nyden noted:

The New York Stock Exchange on Thursday stopped the trading of Alpha Natural Resources common stocks because of the company’s dramatically low stock prices.

On Aug. 1, 2008, Alpha’s stock reached the value of $104 per share. At the close of business on Wednesday, the value of Alpha’s stock had dropped to 24 cents a share.

In a press release, Alpha said:

Alpha Natural Resources, Inc. (NYSE: ANR) today confirmed that the New York Stock Exchange has suspended trading in the company’s common stock, effective immediately, and has initiated proceedings to delist the common stock from the Exchange. The determination was based on “abnormally low” price indications of the company’s common stock. The company expects that its common stock will begin to trade on over-the-counter (OTC) markets beginning on July 17, 2015.

One of the more interesting discussions of Alpha’s situation was a Casper Star-Tribune piece called A sick giant: How Alpha Natural Resources lost its way, which said, among other things:

Alpha’s woes have been compounded by bad business decisions, analysts said, most notably the $7.1 billion purchase of Appalachian coal miner Massey Energy Co. in 2011.

The move was hardly unique at the time. That same year, Arch Coal paid $3.4 billion to acquire the International Coal Group while Peabody Energy bought a majority stake in Australia’s MacArthur Coal for $5 billion.