Peabody makes fresh U.S. stock debut after bankruptcy exit

FILE PHOTO - The ticker and stock information for Peabody Energy is displayed at the post where the stock is traded on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S. on March 16, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. coal miner Peabody Energy Corp BTU.N returned to the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday after emerging from a year-long $8 billion Chapter 11 bankruptcy with far less debt and an industry champion in the White House.

Shares in Peabody, the world’s largest private-sector coal producer, were trading at $29.80 in late morning, down from an opening price of $31.50 but still above the $25 per share paid in a recent rights offering open only to the company’s creditors.

Early market trading put Peabody’s market capitalization at around $4 billion, compared to the company’s estimated value of $3.1 billion used in its rights offering.

Peabody’s new stock listing coincides with increased demand from Asia and anticipation of eased regulation under U.S. President Donald Trump that has fueled investor enthusiasm for coal.

The industry has undergone a dramatic reversal from a year ago, when a slump in coal prices pushed large, debt-ridden U.S. coal companies like Peabody and rival Arch Coal Inc ARCH.N into bankruptcy.

Shares of Arch Coal have risen about 24 percent since it emerged from bankruptcy in October 2016. Coal producer Ramaco Resources Inc METC.O recently completed an initial public offering and Warrior Met Coal WRMCU.PK plans to make its IPO on April 12.

Some of the winners of Peabody’s new stock listing include large hedge funds like Elliott Management, which had the right to buy new shares at a discount of 35 percent to 45 percent, as well as executives and employees who were awarded new stock.

Peabody, which owns prime assets in Australia and coal-rich Wyoming in the United States, exited Chapter 11 protection on Monday with about $2 billion of debt and $800 million of cash.

Peabody President and Chief Executive Officer Glenn Kellow led a group of management and employees from the Americas and Australia to ring the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange.

Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli