No Layoffs Planned at Murray Energy
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Murray Energy Corp. is not going out of business, nor is it planning any layoffs as a result of entering the bankruptcy process.
The company is stressing these points in communications with its employees after seeking Chapter 11 protection through the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Ohio earlier this week. Following the filing, which came Tuesday, the company issued a letter to employees that is available via a special website created to house information about the bankruptcy proceedings, https://cases-primeclerk.com/MurrayEnergy.
“It is important to understand that our filing is, at its core, an effort to continue to operate our mines today and tomorrow as we did yesterday — safely, responsibly and efficiently,” the letter states.
“To that end, the bankruptcy filing is supported by certain of Murray Energy’s senior lenders, who have agreed to provide the Company with cash to operate the business without disruption and is essential to positioning Murray Energy for future success.”
To help ease workers’ minds, the company included three pages of frequently asked questions and corresponding answers. It also established a toll-free hotline at 877-422-5170, where specific concerns can be addressed.
“Your dedication and hard work will allow us to seamlessly meet our customer commitments and help ensure a successful outcome,” the letter to employees states.
In the list of FAQs, Murray addresses the Chapter 11 process as well as the tentative outlook for the company’s future. It explains that Chapter 11 is a legal process that helps companies reorganize rather than liquidate. It also notes that operations are expected to continue as normal, and that more than half of the company’s most significant lenders support its plan.
Specifically, the questions and answers point out that those lenders are extending the company additional financing in the amount of $350 million. That funding is expected to enable Murray to continue to pay employee wages and benefits, to pay vendors and suppliers and to keep producing coal to meet contractual obligations.
Murray cites that the thermal coal market, which it has traditionally served, has been “meaningfully challenged” in recent years. Thermal coal is burned primarily to generate electricity, but other fuels such as natural gas and renewables have been displacing coal in that market. However, the company pledges that restructuring will allow it to continue to remain competitive.
“You should see little effect on your day-to-day job as a result of this announcement,” the FAQ pages state.
Customers, meanwhile, should expect to receive deliveries as scheduled, according to the documents. Suppliers also should anticipate being paid in full for goods and services.
“We remain committed to serving our customers and to doing everything we normally do to meet and exceed their expectations… ,” the company states. “We value the important relationships that we have built with our suppliers and vendors and we will continue to work closely and constructively with them throughout this process.”
As the firm restructures, Robert D. Moore will take the leading role at Murray NewCo., a new company formed to acquire Murray Energy Corp.’s assets. Moore, who has served Murray Energy as its executive vice president, chief operating officer and chief financial officer, also will become CEO of Murray Energy and Murray Energy Corp. — roles previously held by company founder Robert E. Murray. Murray will continue serving as chairman of the board under the new company.
According to the company, the restructuring agreement contemplates that substantially all of Murray Energy’s debt will be eliminated.
Murray Energy is the nation’s largest underground coal mining operation. According to its website, it produces about 76 million tons of coal annually and holds 3 billion tons of coal reserves in seven states and in Colombia, South America. The site states the company employs nearly 7,000 people including miners that work in the tri-state area.