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Outgoing Heinz Endowments President to Chair Rice Energy

In a move that may raise environmentalists' criticism of the Heinz Endowments, Robert Vagt, the outgoing president of the Pittsburgh-based philanthropic organization, will step down next week to become chairman of Rice Energy Inc., an independent operator focused exclusively on the Appalachian Basin.

Heinz spokeswoman Carmen Lee confirmed that Vagt's last day at the helm would be Jan. 24, and that he was leaving to become chairman of the board at Canonsburg, PA-based Rice, which held an initial public offering on Monday. Vagt first announced his intention to leave the organization in October (see Shale Daily, Oct. 15, 2013).

"We're not issuing any statement about his departure, because we feel like we already kind of covered all that last year," Lee said Wednesday.

Rice CEO Daniel J. Rice IV did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday.

According to a S-1 filing Monday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Vagt is listed as the company's director nominee and, at 66 years of age, would be the company's oldest top executive. The S-1 shows that of the 12 top positions at the company, seven are under the age of 35. The youngest, CFO Grayson Lisenby, is 27.

"The board believes that Mr. Vagt's professional background in both the public and private sectors make him an important advisor and member of our board of directors," Rice said in the S-1 filing. "Mr. Vagt brings to the board operations and management expertise in both the public and private sectors.

"In addition, Mr. Vagt provides the board with a welcomed diversity of perspective gained from service as president of the Heinz Endowments, as well as from service as the president of an independent liberal arts college." Vagt served as president of Davidson College from July 1997 to August 2007, according to the filing.

The filing also revealed that Vagt has an extensive background in the energy industry. He served on the board at El Paso Corp., was CEO at Seagull Energy Corp. and Global Natural Resources, and was COO for Adobe Resources Corp.

Rice launched an initial public offering (IPO) on Monday, with 40 million common shares priced at $19-21 each (see Shale Daily, Jan. 13). The company told the SEC it expected to raise $800 million with the IPO, and 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). The company also holds a 48,660-acre position in Ohio's Utica Shale.

Last August, Caren Glotfelty was fired as the Heinz Endowments' environmental program director and Douglas Root left his job as communications director (see Shale Daily, Aug. 7, 2013). The shakeup fueled speculation that Andre Heinz -- a board member, a son of the late U.S. Sen. Henry John Heinz III, an environmentalist and a supporter of wind and solar power -- may have been behind the staff changes.

Although the Heinz Endowments has given millions to both supporters and opponents of hydraulic fracturing, Glotfelty and Vagt were instrumental in forming the Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD) in March 2013 (see Shale Daily, March 21, 2013). The CSSD's industry participants include Chevron Corp., Consol Energy Inc., EQT Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell plc. The William Penn Foundation, another charity, is also a member.

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