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Attorney Speckhart Attends “First Day” Hearings in Arch Coal, Inc. Bankruptcy

January 2016

Cullen Speckhart, an attorney in the creditors’ rights and bankruptcy team of Wolcott Rivers Gates, attended “first day” hearings in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases of Arch Coal, Inc. (“Arch”) and its 72 related companies. The hearings were held in the United States Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Missouri, in St. Louis.

Arch is a leading producer and marketer of coal in the United States, with operations and coal reserves in each of the major coal-producing regions of the country. As of January 2016, it was the second-largest holder of coal reserves in the United States, owning or controlling over five billion tons of proven and probable reserves. The bankruptcy case represents the latest significant filing by a coal company, with Alpha Natural Resources, Inc., James River Coal Company and Patriot Coal Corporation having been filed previously in Virginia. Arch cited rapidly falling coal prices, external competition, and weak demand for coal as contributing factors to it filing bankruptcy.

During Arch’s presentation at the first day hearings, the company communicated an intent to reorganize its balance sheet and to continue streamlining its business operations rather than to liquidate its assets. The bankruptcy case has been assigned to the Honorable Charles E. Rendlen III, who heard twenty-three first day motions on this morning’s docket, each of which were granted on an interim or final basis.

The first day motions were largely uncontested, but an ad hoc group of unsecured noteholders raised concerns about the proposed treatment of unsecured creditors in the case under the debtors’ restructuring support agreement and the fees under the DIP facility. The interim DIP and cash collateral order was nonetheless approved, with further substantive argument expected to take place at later stages of the proceeding.

In the near term, the office of the United States Trustee is working to appoint a committee of unsecured creditors from those parties identified as holding the largest unsecured claims. A formation meeting will be set to take place next week in St. Louis.

For more information, please contact Cullen D. Speckhart, Esq. at (757) 497-6633 or by email at cspeckhart@wolriv.com