July 1, 2019 / 12:30 PM / a year ago

EQT's largest shareholder sides with Rice nominees in proxy fight

FILE PHOTO: Toby Rice, co-founder of Rice Energy group, speaks during an interview in New York, U.S., June 11, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

(Reuters) - Natural gas producer EQT Corp’s (EQT.N) largest shareholder on Monday extended its support for the nominees of Toby and Derek Rice, the two brothers who sold their company to EQT more than a year ago and are pressing for changes to its board.

T Rowe Price Associates Inc, which owns 10% of the company, said it intends to vote for the slate of nominees of Rice brothers at the annual shareholders’ meeting on July 10.

Proxy advisory firms Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis came up with contrasting reports last week with ISS supporting nominees of Rice brothers and Glass Lewis backing the company’s management.

The Rice brothers were part of the founding team at Rice Energy, which was bought by EQT in November 2017. They say EQT management is responsible for the company’s underperformance since the deal and have pushed for an overhaul of its board.

The Rice brothers already have the support of DE Shaw Group and Kensico Capital Management Corp, EQT’s fourth and sixth largest shareholders, respectively. These two shareholders have a combined 8.2% stake in the company, according to data from Refinitiv.

Shares of the company were up 1.2% at $16 in premarket trading.

EQT did not immediately respond to a Reuters’ request for comment.

Reporting by Debroop Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by James Emmanuel

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