Hatfield gets Patriot top jobs, Engelhardt steps down

Patriot Coal (OTC: PCXCQ), in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since July 9, said Oct. 24 that Bennett Hatfield has been named President and CEO, and has been appointed to the Board of Directors, effective immediately.

As CEO, he succeeds Irl Engelhardt, who is stepping down from his duties as Chairman, CEO and member of the board. Michael Scharf has been appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors. He previously served as the independent Lead Director of the board.

“On behalf of the entire Board, I would like to thank Irl for stepping in at a critical time and providing a steady hand in leading Patriot through the initial phase of the restructuring process,” said Scharf.  “We appreciate his many contributions and wish him well.” 

Scharf added; “Ben Hatfield is a respected and proven leader, with the executive and operating experience required to guide the Company through the restructuring process. With 30 years of industry experience, Ben has played an important role in improving the Company’s operations and is well-qualified to lead Patriot. The Patriot Board is confident that his leadership will be invaluable as we undertake changes necessary to position the Company for future success.”

“It is a privilege to be entrusted by the Board to lead this Company,” Hatfield said. “My goal is to take the actions necessary to restore Patriot’s viability and keep our nearly 4,000 employees working. We want to complete the reorganization of Patriot as swiftly and effectively as possible.” 

Patriot will maintain its corporate headquarters in St. Louis, Mo., and Hatfield will continue to split time between his offices in St. Louis and Charleston, W.Va. The bulk of Patriot’s mines are located in southern West Virginia.

Hatfield, was named Patriot’s President and COO in May. He joined Patriot as Executive Vice President and COO in September 2011. Prior to that, he served as President, CEO and a director of International Coal Group, from 2005 until the June 2011 sale of that company to Arch Coal (NYSE: ACI). He has held a number of other key executive operating and commercial positions during his 30-plus years in the coal industry, including President, Eastern Operations of Arch Coal, Executive Vice President and COO of Massey Energy, and Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer of Coastal Coal.

Patriot also announced certain changes to the corporate governance structure of its Board of Directors:

  • The duties of the Finance Committee are being absorbed by the full board.
  • A Special Oversight Committee is being formed to evaluate and provide oversight on various litigation matters, including claims the company may have against third parties. Members of the Special Oversight Committee include independent directors J. Joe Adorjan, Michael Johnson, Janiece Longoria and Robert Viets.
  • Scharf and Hatfield are joining B.R. Brown as members of the Executive Committee, and Scharf will serve as that committee’s Chair.

Patriot also announced that Mark Schroeder, Senior Vice President of Financial Planning, is leaving the company to take a position with a company outside the coal industry. “Mark has been a valued member of our management team since the Company’s formation, and we would like to thank him for all his efforts,” said Scharf.

Patriot Coal is a producer and marketer of coal in the eastern U.S., with 12 active mining complexes in West Virginia and western Kentucky.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.