First Choice Energy

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Infighting and Upheaval Seem to be Ruling the Day at EQT

EQT's merger with Rice Energy in 2017 made the company the largest natural gas producer in the United States.

Given recent events, some at EQT might be questioning if bigger is always better.

Starting several months ago, the Rice brothers mounted a challenge to EQT's leadership.  The fight has remained ongoing, and all seems to be leading up to a major showdown in July. 

In the latest developments, the Rices filed a lawsuit against EQT regarding the company's handling of the proxy bidding process for board nominations.

Now that lawsuit has been dropped after EQT made some adjustments to resolve the issues that the Rice brothers had with the process.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
EQT Corp. and the former leadership of Rice Energy Inc. are continuing their feud even as a lawsuit filed by Toby Rice against the Downtown-based company has been dropped. 
EQT is fighting off an animated proxy challenge from Mr. Rice, his brother Derek Rice and a group of former executives from Rice Energy, which was bought by EQT for $6.7 billion in November 2017. 
The Rice team claims that EQT has mismanaged the company’s assets over the past year and a half and hasn’t delivered the results it should have after the companies combined. Mr. Rice is aiming to replace EQT’s CEO Rob McNally and to win enough votes to install nine new board members. 
The latest spat between the two camps manifested two weeks ago when EQT announced its improved first quarter earnings and Toby Rice filed a lawsuit against the company alleging that EQT was trying to bias the proxy vote through tricky legal language in its board nomination process.
That same article later goes on:
The proxy fight looks like it’s headed straight for EQT’s annual shareholder meeting, scheduled for July 10.
 Read the whole article by clicking here.

Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Business Times reports that the company is also losing its executive vice president of production, after she had only been in the job since October:
The executive in charge of EQT’s natural gas production will be leaving her post early next month after a little over six months in the job. 
Erin Centofanti, who became executive vice president of production Oct. 25, 2018, gave her two-week notice Thursday. EQT (NYSE: EQT) confirmed her plans to depart. 
“Erin has decided to move on to the next phase in her career, and her last day with us will be May 3,” an EQT spokeswoman told the Business Times. Her next move was not disclosed. 
Centofanti, 42, is a 15-year veteran of EQT, having joined in 2004 as a reservoir engineer. She was SVP of asset development at EQT Production, and was promoted in a corporate shakeup that led to the departure of EQT’s previous EVP of production, David Schlosser.
In the midst of all this, EQT did report positive numbers for the 1st quarter of the year.  That's done little to stop all of the upheaval, but for the moment the current braintrust leading the company has given shareholders who may have been leaning towards the huge changes proposed by the Rices some reason to reconsider.

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