Another shift at the top for Patriot Coal

Former Peabody chairman steps down as CEO of Patriot Coal, succeeded by Bennett Hatfield

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- The CEO of Patriot Coal is stepping aside less than five months after taking the job. Irl Engelhardt, a long-time executive at Peabody where he served as chairman and director of one of the world's largest coal producers, took over this year just weeks before the troubled Peabody spin-off sought bankruptcy protection.

The company did not provide more details about the change at the top of the company, or about changes to corporate governance announced Wednesday.

Patriot named Bennett Hatfield to succeed Engelhardt. Hatfield, 55, became president of the company in May on the same day that Engelhardt was named CEO. He had served as chief operating officer since September of last year. He will also take a seat on the board, effective immediately.

Before joining Patriot, Hatfield was CEO and a board member at International Coal Group from 2005 until the June 2011 sale of that company.

The company also announced Wednesday that its finance committee was being absorbed by the full board and that Mark Schroeder, senior vice president of financial planning, was leaving to take a position with a company outside of the coal industry.

Michael Scharf was named chairman. He previously served as the board's independent lead director.

Patriot Coal Corp., based in St. Louis, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July as the industry was ravaged by anemic demand for coal.

The slowing global economy and plummeting natural gas prices, which can be used as an alternate for coal, has led to thousands of layoffs and numerous mine closures across the industry.

Peabody, also based in St. Louis, posted an 84 percent decline in net income for the third quarter on Monday.

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