Heinz Endowment president to become chairman of Rice Energy
The Heinz Endowments president who resigned amid criticism he was too close to the oil and gas industry has accepted a new position as chairman of local gas driller Rice Energy Inc.
Rice nominated Robert Vagt, 66, to become its board chair when the company completes an initial public offering this month, the company said in a regulatory filing. The Cecil-based company plans to raise as much as $966 million in its IPO.
Vagt's last day at The Heinz Endowments, the region's second-biggest foundation with $1.4 billion in assets, is Jan. 24, spokeswoman Carmen Lee said. Despite past criticisms, the foundation doesn't have any problems with his new position, she said.
“His plans for the future don't conflict with what he's doing now,” Lee said. “He's entitled to do what he wants to do in the future. So, no, there's no concern.”
The Heinz Endowments will be hiring a search firm to look for a replacement, Lee said. It plans to have senior staff work with a committee of board members to run day-to-day activities when Vagt leaves, she said.
Vagt declined to be interviewed, Lee said. His position as Rice board chair is not a full-time job, Lee added, declining to provide details of Vagt's responsibilities. Rice Energy officials declined to comment.
Rice plans to give Vagt 12,500 shares of restricted stock vested one year after the IPO but mentioned no other compensation in its filling on Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Based on the IPO price range, Vagt's stock would be worth as much as $262,500.
Vagt announced his resignation from The Heinz Endowments in October and is the fourth key executive to leave in the past year. The foundation had been in turmoil because of wrangling within the family of ketchup heirs and outside criticism of its attempt to foster collaboration between shale gas drillers and environmental groups.
Vagt had been central to the establishment of the Center for Sustainable Shale Development, a joint industry/environmental institute focused on setting standards for safe shale gas drilling. The Public Accountability Initiative, a nonprofit that targets business and government, criticized the group in part because of Vagt's long ties to industry.
Vagt spent more than 10 years in leadership positions with oil and gas companies. Most recently, Vagt was a board member with the pipeline company El Paso Corp. from May 2005 to June 2012, overlapping with most of his six years as endowments president, Rice told the SEC.
Vagt is still listed on the board of directors of pipeline company Kinder Morgan, which bought El Paso in late 2011. Rice did not mention that in its SEC filing.
Rice itself has had conflict-of-interest issues. Its founder is Daniel J. Rice III, the former energy portfolio manager at BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager. BlackRock had never reported Rice's moonlighting to investors.
After the financial press exposed those conflicts, Rice left that post in December 2012, with he and the company saying they wanted to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest. Since January 2013, he has been lead portfolio manager for GRT Capital's energy division, Rice said in its SEC filing.
Rice Energy has set an introductory price range at $19 to $21 a share for its IPO, which it previously said would be in the first three months of 2012. The company and one of its stockholders plans to sell 40 million to 46 million shares, raising as much as $966 million.
The company expects to net about $566 million and will use the proceeds largely to pay off debt and help fund its $1 billion investment for gas development in the Marcellus and Utica shale formations of Western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio.
Timothy Puko is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7991 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Oil’s rebound pushes up price at gas pumps
- Mylan rejects Teva’s $40 billion takeover bid
- Experts: If health insurers’ safeguard goes broke, consumers could pay
- Kings Family Restaurants sold to California firm
- Rules could kick door open for nuclear power
- Visa limits vex businesses
- Paper’s prevalence unlikely to diminish
- Scented society is killing cheap perfume industry
- Mylan raises bid for fellow drugmaker; Perrigo says ‘no’
- California drought may be felt in Pittsburgh restaurants, groceries
- Nike, Under Armour invest in watching exercisers’ steps