Energy Activist Battle Divides Rice Siblings: It's ‘Awkward’

(Bloomberg) -- Being on the board of a company your brothers are trying to take over can get uncomfortable -- just ask Daniel Rice IV.

“It’s the most awkward thing in the world,” said Rice, a member of the board of directors for EQT Corp., which is facing activist pressure from his brothers after they sold their company to the natural gas driller in 2017. “I’m kind of cut off from things.”

Derek and Toby Rice are pushing for management changes in order to improve the company’s performance, which they say has lagged peers since it bought Rice Energy Inc. The brothers want to replace current Chief Executive Officer Robert McNally with Toby, as well as appoint a new chairman and directors. They’ve threatened a proxy battle at EQT’s annual meeting in July if their demands aren’t met and have gained the support of at least one major shareholder, D.E. Shaw & Co.

“I don’t talk to them, they don’t talk to me,” Daniel Rice said of his brothers on the sidelines of Hart Energy’s Energy Capital Conference in Dallas Tuesday. “I’m kind of a man without a country right now.”

Daniel Rice attained a seat on the board after EQT’s $6 billion cash-and-stock buyout of Rice Energy. He said he’s been traveling around the world this past year as he home-schools his children, which he said has been “a blessing” -- in part because he hasn’t had much face time with his brothers.

All the Rice brothers are in their 30s. Since the start of 2018, share of EQT have plunged 37 percent, outpacing the 8.6 percent drop in the S&P 500 Energy Sector Index.

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