Toby Rice, EQT’s New CEO, is NOT Cleaning House re Top Management

The clock is now ticking for Toby and Derek Rice who have made big promises about the future of the company they just seized control of (EQT). The Rice boys have a “100 day plan” they have already begun to implement. During the proxy fight to control EQT’s board, and ultimately its management team, Toby Rice threw some sharp barbs including talk that EQT’s existing management was not up to the task. The Rice boys said so, their board nominees said so, heck, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) said so too. There will be change (i.e. personnel change) at the “operational level” said ISS. But apparently that change only extended to two people: EQT’s (now former) CEO Robert McNally, and EQT’s (now former) top attorney, Jonathan Lushko–who were shown the door.
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Radicals Terrorize Outgoing CEO Rob McNally & Family at His Home

Do you consider it “free speech” to assemble a mob outside someone’s home at 2 o’clock in the morning and start hollering and shouting, beating a drum, thereby threatening and menacing an innocent family in that home? We sure don’t call it free speech. We call it gang activity–or maybe even terrorism. When the people inside the home feel threatened, what else can you call it? That’s what happened to EQT’s then-CEO Rob McNally and his family in the early morning hours of July 10, the day he lost his job following EQT’s annual meeting. Those outside doing the terrorizing were radical anti-fossil fuel nutters–some from out of state. Crazies. They should have been arrested. They weren’t.
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Rice Bros. Win Proxy War to Control EQT – Toby Rice New CEO

Toby Rice – New EQT CEO (photo credit: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Monumentally BIG NEWS! The Rice boys, Toby and Derek, have won the proxy fight to elect their candidates to the EQT board. In a joint announcement made this morning, preliminary results show the Rice boys prevailed in a huge upset (80% of the vote) to gain control of the largest natural gas producing company in the U.S. Later today the new board will meet and vote to appoint Toby Rice CEO and President of EQT. The firing and replacement of top management won’t be far behind.
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PA Landowners Seek Class Action Against EQT re Gas Storage

Last July a group of 100+ southwestern Pennsylvania landowners sued EQT for failure to pay them rental fees for storing natural gas under their properties (see 100+ PA Landowners Sue EQT re Gas Storage Field Payments). That same group has just filed a request in U.S. District Court to upgrade the lawsuit to class action status, potentially including thousands of affected landowners.
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Montage Resources Cuts Drilling Program to 1 Rig in 2nd Half 2019

Montage stock performance last 6 mo (click for larger version)

Montage Resources, which formed in a merger of Eclipse Resources and Blue Ridge Mountain Resources (formerly Magnum Hunter Resources) in March of this year, issued an operational update on Monday. The update says the company will produce more gas than it previously forecast for the second half of 2019. It also says because the price of gas is so darned low, they are cutting back from two to one active drilling rig in 2H19.
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Steubenville, OH in the Catbird Seat – Between Two Crackers

Location of Steubenville, halfway between Monaca, PA and Dilles Bottom, OH

Several weeks ago MDN editor Jim Willis attended the 2019 Northeast Petrochemical Conference and Expo in Pittsburgh. A major reason for attending such events is to connect with others in the industry. On this trip, Jim had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Bryce Custer, business director for global commercial real estate company NAI’s Ohio River Corridor division. Bryce’s job is to find real estate for companies in places where maybe real estate isn’t (yet) for sale. Companies like manufacturers who want to locate near the Shell and (soon, hopefully) PTT ethane cracker facilities–looking to locate in the Ohio River Valley. Bryce helps them find suitable locations. Bryce recently spoke to the Steubenville Revitalization Group and had an interesting observation about Steubenville’s geography.
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CNX Operates SWPA’s Sole 100% All-Electric Fracking Unit

A little over a year ago CNX Resources announced that the company had signed a long-term contract with Evolution Well Services to use Evolution’s 100% natural gas-fueled electric pressure pumping equipment (see CNX Signs Deal with Evolution to Use 100% Electric Fracking Fleet). That is, CNX will use electric fracking equipment, with the electricity generated by burning natural gas, instead of diesel.
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LOLA Energy Sues EQT for Trespass, Drilling Wells Under LOLA Land

In another MDN exclusive, last Friday LOLA Energy filed a lawsuit in Greene County, PA against EQT for allegedly drilling shale wells under property EQT formerly leased, property for which the leases had lapsed and were subsequently scooped up by LOLA Energy (see LOLA Energy is Back! Scoops Up Rice Acreage EQT Let Expire). LOLA says they are now the owners of those leases and that EQT has drilled under some of their properties. LOLA tried to broker a deal for compensation but those talks broke down and hence a lawsuit was filed.
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Proxy Advisory Firm Egan-Jones Supports Rice Bros. in Proxy War

A week ago we brought you the news that the country’s top two shareholder advisory firms, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis & Co., are each supporting opposing sides in the EQT proxy war (see Latest Round of Proxy Announcements from Rice Bros., EQT). A third firm, Egan-Jones–perhaps not quite as high profile as ISS and Glass Lewis but a big deal nonetheless (in the list of the top 6 such firms)–has just endorsed…
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Dela. Riverkeeper Loses Court Case to Block Martian Drilling

It seems the door *does* swing both ways when it comes to Pennsylvania municipalities and the Act 13 lawsuit decision that allows municipalities to have a say in zoning in, or zoning out, shale drilling. In 2013 seven selfish PA towns won the right, from the PA Supreme Court, to impose their own zoning rules on oil and gas drilling (see PA Supreme Court Rules Against State/Drillers in Act 13 Case). Since that time, Big Green groups have asked the court to rule the door only swings one way–that zoning can keep shale drilling out, but never allow *more* of it. That notion has now been put to rest. The door swings both ways.
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Handicapping the EQT/Rice Proxy Fight – Does it Matter Who Wins?

Photo credit: LA Times

Who’s winning the proxy war to control the board of EQT Corporation? According to an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the ultimate outcome doesn’t much matter, at least for investors. “Investors love a proxy fight,” begins the article. Why? Because the share price for the company’s stock almost always rises during a proxy fight. As for who has more momentum going into next week’s July 10 annual meeting, it’s hard to deny that the Rice brothers have the big mo. The #1 shareholder in EQT, T. Rowe Price (owns 10% of all EQT stock), along with two other “top 10” EQT shareholders, are backing the Rice plan.
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EQT & Rice Trade Barbs Again, EQT Releases Refreshed Slide Deck

Yesterday saw the latest round of shareholder letters from both sides in the proxy war to control the board of EQT Corporation–the largest natural gas producing company in the United States (not to mention they are focused 100% on the Marcellus/Utica). The Rice brothers, Toby and Derek, crowed about the fact the country’s most prominent shareholder advisory service, ISS, has sided with them, along with three of the top 10 EQT shareholders. EQT made the case that current management and the coming “refreshed” board mean that EQT is essentially a new company, and now is not the time to screw it up (our words, their sentiment).
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PennEnergy Resources Gets Ready to Drill in Economy, PA

PennEnergy Resources, a Pittsburgh based independent oil and gas company focused on the Marcellus/Utica Shale, is getting ready to drill new wells on a pad in Economy (Beaver County), PA. The plan is facing stiff opposition from local residents because it’s located near a housing development in a residential (albeit rural) area, and will use a local road for access.
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Latest Round of Proxy Announcements from Rice Bros., EQT

Another day, another round of press releases from both EQT and the Rice brothers over the future of the company. The two sides are locked in a proxy battle to nominate a majority of board members, who in turn will appoint (or keep) top management for the company. Yesterday’s round of letters was, in essence, a recap of news that broke late last week: One major shareholder advisory firm, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), supports the Rice brothers’ attempt to take over the company, while a second major advisory firm, Glass Lewis & Co., believes existing management is the right answer for EQT’s future.
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Proxy War: ISS Supports Rice Brothers, Glass Lewis Supports EQT

Early on Friday, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), which makes recommendations to shareholders on how to vote in proxy fights, gave their stamp of approval to Toby and Derek Rice’s “activist” board takeover picks. ISS is heavily influential with institutional investors–organizations like hedge funds, mutual funds, and pension funds. We thought, “Oh oh, it’s all over now. The Rice boys have won.” But not so fast. Late Friday a second highly influential service that institutional investors look to for guidance, Glass Lewis & Co., threw their support behind the EQT slate of board candidates. The two most influential guidance services have split their support. What will shareholders do?
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