According to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court docket, the U.S. Trustee assigned to the Alpha Natural Resources case filed a limited objection to the Debtors’ motion for an order (i) confirming authority to continue pre-petition retention programs for non-insider employees in the ordinary course of business, (ii) establishing a discretionary pool for the payment of future retention obligations to non-insider employees and (iii) granting certain related relief.
The objection explains, “Because it determined that, unless incentivized with additional compensation, irreplaceable key employees would leave for greener pastures, Alpha Natural Resources and its affiliated companies (collectively, the ‘Debtors’) entered into a number of ‘Key Employee Retention Plans’ (‘KERPs’) with these key employees. Debtors seek to continue those KERPs post-petition and to potentially renew or enter into additional KERPs in the future. Without opining upon Debtors’ business judgment as to the necessity or propriety of these KERPs, the United States Trustee objects to a small number of the KERPs because they are prohibited by the Bankruptcy Code in the absence of very specific and rare circumstances which have not been alleged to exist here. Specifically, the United States Trustee objects to any KERP with any corporate officer who is elected or appointed by any of Debtors’ boards of directors because those people constitute statutory ‘insiders’ to whom KERP payments are generally prohibited.”
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