By Tom Hals
WILMINGTON, Del. (Reuters) - Peabody Energy Corp said on Thursday it extended a deadline for creditors to join financing deals aimed at bringing the largest U.S. coal miner out of bankruptcy amid growing creditor support for its plan of reorganization.
Last week, Peabody unveiled its plan to eliminate more than $5 billion of debt and raise capital from creditors with a $750 million private placement and a $750 million rights offering.
The financing agreements were funded by key creditors that signed on to a plan support agreement with Peabody, although a portion of those deals were reserved for other noteholders if they agreed to back Peabody's plan by Wednesday.
Peabody said in a statement the deadline was extended to Friday for Peabody noteholders to join the financing deals, which offer an opportunity to receive financial incentives.
Peabody said a judge on Wednesday extended the deadline to Jan. 6 for a group of large investors holding about $444 million of the company's securities who had filed a lawsuit to halt the financing process.
The investors, Appaloosa Management, Latigo Partners, Capital Ventures International and Venor Capital Management, said they needed more time to review the financing plans Peabody unveiled last week.
The coal industry has been recovering from the weak prices that pushed three of the four largest U.S. coal producers into bankruptcy over the past two years. Peabody this month took advantage of rising coal prices to seek court approval to repay a $500 million term loan ahead of schedule.
Peabody said on Thursday it has growing support for its plan, with holders of 65 percent of its second-lien notes and 65 percent of its unsecured notes signing on to the financing deals and plan support agreement.
(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)