Rice Brothers Seek EQT Meeting This Week to Pursue CEO's Ouster

(Bloomberg) -- Rice Energy Inc.’s co-founders told EQT Corp.’s board that they want to discuss replacing the natural gas producer’s chief executive officer, chairman and some of its directors.

Toby and Derek Rice, whose energy company was acquired last year by EQT, outlined their plans in a letter to EQT’s board and suggested they meet this week.

“We strongly prefer a negotiated resolution with the EQT board and believe these changes are required to deliver the results that EQT shareholders expect,” the Rice brothers said in the letter dated Monday, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg.

The brothers said they wanted to discuss replacing EQT CEO Robert McNally with Toby Rice and appointing a new mutually agreed upon chairman to replace James Rohr. They also wanted to discuss appointing three other directors, in addition to Toby Rice, to the board.

Daniel Rice, another brother, currently sits on the EQT board.

The letter, reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal, was in response to an invitation from EQT’s board to meet, the Rices said.

A representative for EQT wasn’t immediately available for comment.

The Rice brothers’ push for changes at the Pittsburgh-based company has garnered the support of activist investor D.E. Shaw & Co., which owns 3.6 percent of EQT according to data compiled by Bloomberg, and former EQT CEO Steven Schlotterbeck.

“These changes can be accomplished promptly, are in the best interest of all EQT shareholders, and are necessary to the success of the required turnaround plan,” the Rice brothers said.

The Rices hold more than 7 million EQT shares, equivalent to a stake of at least 2.8 percent, after agreeing to the company’s 2017 purchase of Rice Energy for $6 billion in cash and stock. D.E. Shaw supported the acquisition but had agitated for EQT to spin off its midstream assets, which it eventually did this year.

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