January 30, 2019 Read More →

Troubled Wyoming coal company to pay executive bonuses early

Casper Star Tribune:

Cloud Peak Energy executives won’t have to wait for bonuses from their troubled coal company. The Wyoming firm, one of the state’s largest producers of coal, announced Tuesday that it was ditching gradually-paid retention plans agreed upon in November in favor of lump-sum payments to entice its executive team to stay.

Cloud Peak has rapidly become one of the most vulnerable large players in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. The employer of nearly 1,000 workers at two Wyoming mines is currently at risk of being delisted from the New York Stock Exchange for sustained low stock prices. One of its recent cost-cutting measures included ending retiree health benefits.

In addition to an accelerated bonus schedule for executives, Cloud Peak announced Tuesday that it had hired new advisers to explore its options, including a potential sale. The financial advisers chosen by the company, FTI Consulting and investment bank Centerview Partners LLC, are both retained by Westmoreland, the bankrupt coal firm attempting to sell its western mines, including the Kemmerer mine in Wyoming.

Clark Williams-Derry, a financial adviser for the Sightline Institute – which advocates for a move away from fossil fuels — said Cloud Peak’s announcements Tuesday may signal that leadership doesn’t expect to exist long enough to collect the previous long-term retention bonuses. He was critical of the shifting of incomes toward management considering the company’s likely path.

The new payments for Cloud Peak executives replace long-term incentive plans and bonuses. CEO Colin Marshall, for example, will receive a bonus of 150 percent his annual base salary. Chief Financial Officer Heath Hill, Chief Operating Officer Bruce Jones and the general counsel, Bryan Pechersky, will receive bonuses of 115 percent of their salary. Two other executives will receive bonuses equal to 100 percent of their base salary.

Cloud Peak owns the Cordero Rojo and Antelope mines in Wyoming as well as one coal operation in Montana. The Wyoming mines employed 959 people as of December.

More: Troubled Wyoming coal firm speeds up bonuses it says will retain execs

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