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James River shares soar on debt exchange

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Shares of James River Coal Co. jumped Friday after the company said it reached deals to exchange about $243.4 million of existing debt for $123.3 million in new debt, pushing back the maturity of some of it by three years.

The notes to be exchanged include $90 million of James River's 4.5 percent senior convertible notes due 2015 and $153.4 million of its 3.125 percent senior convertible notes due 2018.

Those notes will be exchanged for $123.3 million of new 10 percent senior convertible notes due 2018. Once the deals take place, $51.2 million of the 2015 notes and $51.6 million of the 2018 notes will remain outstanding, the company said.

The three-year delay in the maturity of some of the notes will help the company ride out tough market conditions for the coal industry.

Coal companies have struggled amid continued soft demand that has driven down prices, as many utilities turned to cheaper natural gas to run generators. Economic slowdowns overseas also have slowed the appetite for coal to make steel.

In afternoon trading, James River shares jumped 29 cents, or 13.1 percent, to $2.51 after peaking at $2.77 earlier in the day. Over the past 52 weeks, the company's shares have traded between $1.46 and $5.89.