EQT Corp. lays off nearly 25% of its workforce | TribLIVE.com
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Natasha Lindstrom

EQT Corp. is laying off 196 employees, nearly one-quarter of its workforce, the Downtown Pittsburgh-based natural gas producer announced Tuesday.

Company officials attributed the decision to a broader restructuring plan to “create a more efficient and nimbler organization.”

Slashing the 196 positions will save about $50 million in annual costs, according to EQT.

“I’d like to thank those employees who are leaving for their contributions to EQT,” CEO Toby Rice said in a statement. “We firmly believe this is a step we must take to create a more efficient organization and to enable our employees to succeed.”

Rice said the move “represents another significant milestone as we transform EQT into a modern, technology-driven and efficient natural gas producer.”

The reorganization involves reducing the company’s number of departments from 58 to 15.

Company officials did not specify the types of positions eliminated or where the affected employees are located.

EQT Corp. — which bills itself as the largest natural gas producer in the United States — focuses on the Appalachian Basin, with operations in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. The company traces its roots back 130 years.

The newly announced layoffs bring EQT’s total number of employees down to about 650, compared to more than 900 who were on payroll last year.

EQT officials acknowledged a prior round of layoffs in January, two years after EQT’s merger with Rice Energy Inc. Officials similarly attributed the January layoffs to EQT’s broader plan to improve efficiency and cash flow.

In December, Rice family members Toby Z. Rice and Derek A. Rice sent a letter to the EQT board seeking power to enact their business plan for the company. The Rices projected the plan would generate an incremental $400 million to $600 million pretax cash flow above EQT’s projections and sought authority from the EQT board to give Toby Rice “proper authority and support to oversee operations.”

In Tuesday’s statement, Rice, said, “Following the addition of proven leadership and the establishment of our digital work environment, we evaluated the business and determined the appropriate ‘future state’ organizational structure,” Rice said. “This future state will challenge, empower and support employees so we can achieve our strategic goals of reducing costs, improving efficiency and realizing the full potential of our asset base for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

EQT officials plan to share more about the company’s financial position during an upcoming third-quarter earnings report for investors.

On Tuesday afternoon, shares of EQT were trading at $11.81, down from $19.86 in January. The stock’s peak hit $21.45 in May, and it’s been steadily dropping since.

RELATED: Pittsburgh-based EQT confirms layoffs, but details are scant

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