Rice Energy Inc. launched its initial public offering (IPO) on Monday with 40 million common shares priced at $19-21 each.

The Canonsburg, PA-based pure-play operator with acreage in the Marcellus and Utica Shale plays has been approved to list its common stock on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker symbol "RICE." Rice is selling 30 million shares, while selling stockholders will offer the other 10 million.

The company said in registration documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in December that it expected to raise $800 million with the IPO, but at the top of its price range, Rice could see $840 million raised. Barclays is the lead underwriter for the offering, with Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo Securities, BMO Capital Markets and RBC Capital Markets acting as joint book-running managers.

In a press release issued Monday, Rice said selling stockholders expect to grant the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to another six million shares of the company's common stock if they sell more than 40 million shares. Rice said a registration statement relating to the IPO's launch has been filed with the SEC, but the sale and statement are not yet effective.

In documents filed ahead of the IPO's launch in December, Rice listed 552 Bcf of reserves in the Marcellus Shale where it has 43,551 net acres, mostly in liquids-rich Southwest Pennsylvania (see Shale Daily, Dec. 17, 2013). Those reserves and the company's acreage position are higher, though, as the company plans to soon close the $300 million purchase of its 50% stake in a joint venture in Greene County, PA, it has with Alpha Natural Resources (see Shale Daily, Dec. 10, 2013). Pending the sale, Rice did not include those assets in its filing last month.

The company's 48,660 acre position in Ohio's Utica Shale will also be buoyed by a joint development agreement Rice is expected to execute with the leading Appalachian-operator Gulfport Energy Inc. in Belmont County, OH. Rice also holds permits in Guernsey County, OH.

Rice plans to spend $1.08 billion in the Marcellus and Utica next year. It said in its December filing that it will use the funds it raises through the offering to pay down its debt with lenders under its revolving credit facility, pay Alpha $100 million in cash to purchase its half of the joint venture and finance a portion of its 2014 capital budget.