Contura Energy Inc and Alpha Natural Resources Holdings Inc announced that the two companies have agreed to a merger that will create the largest U.S. producer of metallurgical (met) coal, used in steelmaking. The deal reunites the two businesses that were split following a 2015 bankruptcy.
Under terms of the all-stock deal, Alpha shareholders will end up owning 46.5 percent of the merged entity. The two companies said they sold a combined 11.4 Mt (12.6 million st) of metallurgical coal in 2017, vaulting the merged company ahead of Coronado Resources Ltd of Vancouver.
The merged company will own 907 Mt (1 billion st) of coal reserves, according to a securities filing.
The deal gives Alpha and Contura increased scale and financial muscle, and the merged company expects to list its common stock on the New York Stock Exchange when the deal closes, giving it capital for more acquisitions.
Alpha’s reorganization under Chapter 11 bankruptcy significantly reduced the company’s debt, which had totaled more than $7 billion when it filed.
The resulting combination is expected to enhance competitive positioning and generate meaningful cost synergies in the range of $30 million to $50 million annually, including through coal blending optimization as well as purchasing, operating, administrative, and capital allocation efficiencies.
The combined entity will retain the Contura Energy name and be led by Contura’s existing management team, with Kevin Crutchfield continuing as chief executive officer. Alpha’s chairman and chief executive officer, David Stetson, will resign his role and transition to the Contura board, the companies said in a statement.
Immediately after closing, the Contura board will be composed of the five existing Contura directors as well as the following four individuals who currently serve on Alpha’s board: David Stetson, Daniel Geiger, John Lushefski and Harvey Tepner.
“While this transaction would probably not have been possible even a year ago, resurgent global coal markets, a tightened production profile by way of recent asset divestments made independently by both Alpha and Contura, and resulting potential cost synergies together provide an exciting opportunity for value creation through combining our respective operational portfolios,” said Crutchfield. “The Contura team is excited to join forces with Alpha’s set of highly competitive coal operations and unify some of the best coal miners in the world under one organization.”
“We believe this transaction makes great strategic sense that benefits our long-term stakeholders,” added Mr. Stetson. “The combined organization will have a stronger balance sheet, greater capabilities and a longer reserve life. More importantly, the merger will align two companies that share a steadfast commitment to safety and Running Right.”
Formed by a group of Alpha’s former first lien lenders, Contura launched in July 2016 with an initial acquisition of certain coal assets from Alpha Natural Resources, Inc., concurrent with Alpha’s emergence from its Chapter 11 reorganization process and as confirmed by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.