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EQT Corp. buying Rice Energy for $6.7 billion

Staff report

The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING, W.Va. — EQT Corp. is buying Rice Energy Inc. for $6.7 billion and will become the largest natural gas producer in the nation.

In the deal announced Monday, EQT will buy all outstanding shares of Rice common stock for about $6.7 billion and assume $1.5 billion in net debt and preferred equity. The companies — both based in western Pennsylvania — say the deal should close in the fourth quarter this year.

EQT’s president and chief executive officer, Steve Schlotterbeck, said the deal “brings together two of the top Marcellus and Utica producers to form a natural gas operating position that will be unmatched in the industry.” The boards of both companies approved the deal, but shareholders of both companies must still vote on the arrangement, which must also be approved by government regulators.

“Rice has built an outstanding company with an acreage footprint that is largely contiguous to our existing acreage … ,” Schlotterbeck said. “Since the beginning of 2016, we have added more than 485,000 acres to our development portfolio and have achieved significant scale in the core of the Marcellus. We will now shift our focus from acquisitions to integration … .”

Daniel J. Rice IV, chief executive officer of Rice Energy, said, “Natural gas is the key to a cleaner energy world, and the combination of Rice and EQT — two of the United States’ largest, lowest-cost and most responsible natural gas producers — creates an unparalleled leader in shale gas development that will benefit the environment and our shareholders for many decades to come.”

Once the deal closes, EQT shareholders will own 65 percent of the combined company, and Rice will nominate two directors to the EQT board.

The acquisition includes 65,000 acres in eastern Ohio’s Utica Shale currently held by Rice. That company has drilled numerous wells in the local area, particularly in western Belmont County. Some of those wells have set production records in the state of Ohio.

Officials with Rice and EQT did not immediately return phone calls and emails Monday seeking comment on how the deal will affect property owners who have leased mineral rights to Rice.

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