Peabody Energy back to the NYSE as emerges from bankruptcy

Peabody’s North Antelope Rochelle Mine (NARM). (Image courtesy of Peabody Energy)

US coal miner Peabody Energy (NYSE:BTU), the world’s largest privately owned producer of the fossil fuel, made a fresh debut on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday after emerging from an almost to the date year-long bankruptcy protection.

Shares in the St. Louis-based company began trading at $31.50, but were already down 5.65% to $29.25 at 11:43AM ET, still above the $25 per share paid in a recent rights offering open only to the company’s creditors.

In the past year, Peabody was able to reduce costs and slash debt to about $2bn from more than $10bn.

Peabody said Monday it had been able to reduce costs and slash debt to about $2bn from more than $10bn in the past year and noted it is in a position to start paying dividends in 2018. This, despite its credit agreement imposes a $25 million cap for the first year and then limits based on its debts in subsequent years.

Chief executive Glenn Kellow said that the company has the size and assets — including a wide geographic reach — to be competitive. He added the firm will aim to further reduce debt and return cash to shareholders.

About 60,000 coal mining jobs, or more than 40%, have vanished since 2011, and the country’s total production of the fossil fuel last year hit its lowest level since 1978.

But the company’s relisting comes a time of moderate increased demand from Asia and anticipation of eased regulation under US President Donald Trump, which have rekindle investors enthusiasm for coal.

“Coal remains an essential part of the energy mix, and Peabody is the largest U.S. coal producer while our Australian platform has access to the higher-growth Asia-Pacific region,” Kellow said in a statement.

Peabody’s move follows that of rival Arch Coal (NYSE:ACI), which emerged from bankruptcy in October. Ramaco Resources, in turn, held the industry’s first initial public offering in two years. And Warrior Met Coal LLC is planning its own.

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