Corp Raider Supports EQT/Rice Merger, but Lawsuit Still Looms

In something of a good omen ahead of a vote on Nov. 9 by shareholders of EQT and Rice Energy to approve a merger, one of two EQT-shareholding corporate raiders, D.E. Shaw, supports the merger. In point of fact, Shaw has not opposed the merger since it was announced in June. Shaw’s “issue” has been that the merged EQT/Rice should immediately split itself in two–into upstream (drilling) and midstream (pipelines). Shaw’s pressure seems to be one of the (main?) reasons why EQT moved up the timing to consider such a split (see Under Pressure, EQT Moves Up Timeline to Explore Splitting Co.). Last week EQT CEO Steve Schlotterbeck all but confirmed the company will split in two after a special committee formed to explore that option makes its final recommendation (see EQT CEO Signals Company Likely to Split in Two After Rice Merger). Evil corporate raider Jana Partners is still opposed to the merger and is fighting it tooth and nail. Jana may have some help. A flurry of lawsuits have been filed by shareholders opposing the merger–most of them going nowhere. However, one of the lawsuits, filed in Allegheny County Court, will go before a judge three days before the Nov. 9 vote. That lawsuit requests an emergency injunction against the vote. It’s possible the county judge could block the vote, giving Jana more time to whip up opposition…

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