Peabody Energy, the world’s largest privately owned coal producer, has filed for US bankruptcy protection in the wake of a sharp fall in coal prices that left it unable to service a recent debt-fuelled expansion into Australia.
The company listed both assets and liabilities in the range of $10bn (£7bn) to $50bn, according to a court filing on Wednesday.
Peabody’s chapter 11 bankruptcy filing ranks among the largest in the commodities sector since energy and metals prices began to fall in the middle of 2014 as once fast-growing markets such as China and Brazil began to slow.
Peabody’s debt troubles date back to its $5.1bn leveraged buyout of Australia’s Macarthur in 2011, a coveted asset at the time meant to position it as a supplier of metallurgical coal for Asian steel mills.
For whom the bell tolls...