On February 12, Cloud Peak Energy laid off 15 employees in higher level positions including public affairs. The company announced serious changes were coming last November after prolonged financial difficulties. Its strategic review could mean a potential sale of the company.
In a statement, Cloud Peak explained its decision: "This reduction is part of our ongoing efforts to adjust our company to challenging industry conditions and the smaller size of our business." It added that the responsibilities will either be assumed by other positions or just no longer performed.
Clark Williams-Derry, director of energy finance at Sightline Institute, an environmental research center, said the lay-offs are a clear sign that the company's financial health isn't improving, and it could be nearing bankruptcy. This particular decision could be about positioning itself to be purchased by another company.
"Maybe they want to sell some of their assets to, you know, rival Peabody or Arch Coal, for example. Those firms already have this kind of staffing in place," he said.
Williams-Derry said it could also help free up short-term cash. Cloud Peak Energy handed out substantial retention bonuses to executives last year.