Murray Energy Corp., the U.S. coal giant that had pressed the Trump administration for help, has filed for bankruptcy.
The largest closely held coal miner in America failed to make multiple payments to lenders this month, prompting a deal with creditors that will see them make a "stalking horse" bid under Chapter 11 bankruptcy to exchange the company’s debt for its assets, the company announced Tuesday morning in a press release.
As part of the reorganization deal, the group of creditors — who hold more than 60 percent of about $1.7 billion in claims against the company — will also provide $350 million to allow Murray Energy to continue operations in bankruptcy, subject to court approval.
Murray Energy, based in St. Clairsville in eastern Ohio, is at least the fifth major U.S. coal company to declare bankruptcy this year, as cheap natural gas and renewable energy resources cut into coal’s share of the U.S. power market. Coal once accounted for more than half of all U.S. power generation. Today, it’s less than 25%.
Robert Murray, the company’s 79-year-old founder and chief executive officer, is relinquishing the CEO job to Robert D. Moore, the company’s chief operating officer who is also president and CEO of coal producer Foresight Energy, a company over which Murray Energy has a controlling interest. Foresight is not part of the bankruptcy.
Robert Murray is expected to remain as Murray Energy’s chairman of the board.
Murray Energy’s bankruptcy comes more than a year after the Trump administration’s efforts to subsidize struggling nuclear and coal-fired power plants — particularly ones that Murray supplies — failed, shot down by President Donald Trump’s own appointed energy regulators.
Robert Murray, an early Trump supporter and a big donor to his campaign, was instrumental in setting his energy agenda and has hosted multiple fundraisers for him.