Equitable Rewards Gerber With Chairman Post
Acknowledging its significant improvement in company performance
and shareholder value in the past year, Equitable Resources
promoted Murry S. Gerber to chairman of the board of directors last
week. Gerber has served as president and CEO since joining
Equitable in 1998.
Company officials cited Gerber's success in promoting his
philosophy of cost-structure improvements, core business growth and
development, and strategic acquisitions that helped Equitable
deliver a 60% total return to its shareholders in the past year.
The 1999 full-year earnings per share rose 196% over 1998, to $2.01
per share, and first quarter 2000 earnings rose 40% to $1.19 per
share over the same quarter in 1999.
"Thanks to Murry's leadership and strong management team,
Equitable has developed a foundation for additional growth and
improvement," said James Rohr, president and CEO of PNC Bank and an
Equitable board member. "Murry's appointment as chairman reflects
his accomplishments over the past year."
Detailing the company's success in the past several months reads
like a business school lesson in how to succeed. Just months ago, the
company announced that it had completed the acquisition of the
Appalachian production assets of Statoil Energy Inc. for $630 million
(see NGI, Jan. 10). Statoil's production
assets consisted of nearly 1.2 Tcf of proven gas reserves and 6,500
natural gas wells in West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania
and Ohio, and more than doubled Equitable's natural gas reserves in
the northeast U.S. energy market. The acquisition also made Equitable
the leading natural gas producer in the Appalachian basin. The company
announced yesterday it is moving its Alexandria, VA production
headquarters, including 25 professional personnel to the corporate
offices in Pittsburgh.
In March, Equitable announced it had completed combining its Gulf
of Mexico assets with Westport Oil and Gas Co. (see NGI, March 20). In that transaction, Equitable
received nearly $50 million in cash and a minority interest in the
Westport, based in Denver, has oil and gas production in the
Rockies, mid-continent and Gulf Coast. With the combination,
Equitable officials said they would be able to focus on their core
business of natural gas distribution and Appalachian production.
Equitable Resource's marketing and trading arm is Equitable
Energy, which serves non-regulated customers. It purchases and
sells natural gas, crude oil and natural gas liquids in
Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky as well
as the Gulf Coast. It also performs price risk management
activities for its customers using energy futures, options and
Equitable officials searched for a year before naming Gerber
president and CEO of the company in May 1998 (see NGI, May 11, 1998). Gerber had been Coral Energy
CEO, having moved over from a position with Shell Oil.
Carolyn Davis, Houston