August 27, 2019

Seven firms including Bernstein Litowitz, Robbins Geller and Pomerantz petitioned a Pennsylvania federal court Monday seeking to take the lead of a proposed investor class action against EQT Corp. over its alleged exaggeration of the benefits from its merger with Rice Energy.

Seven retirement funds and one investor submitted competing bids to be lead plaintiff and have their firms appointed lead counsel in the suit that Cambridge Retirement System filed against EQT and its officers in June, and the proposed plaintiffs have brought in veterans of securities litigation against WorldCom Inc., Enron Corp. and Petrobras.

Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC sought to jointly represent the Government of Guam Retirement Fund, the Northeast Carpenters Annuity Fund and the Northeast Carpenters Pension Fund, which said they collectively lost $2.17 million when EQT stock took a 13% dive after longer horizontal gas wells and operating efficiencies from the EQT-Rice merger failed to materialize in the company's earnings.

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“Guam and Northeast Carpenters are aware that Bernstein Litowitz filed the first and only complaint against defendants asserting these claims, and that both Bernstein Litowitz and Cohen Milstein have been investigating investors’ claims for several weeks,” the memo said. 

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In addition to representing investors in suits against Merck & Co. Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co., Bernstein Litowitz had worked with Cohen Milstein on cases such as the Bear Stearns Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates Litigation, the memo said.

Cambridge's lawsuit accused EQT and its officers of making false statements about how merging with Rice in 2017 would combine their lease holdings to allow longer horizontal wells to be drilled under now-contiguous properties, while ignoring or denying activist investors' claims that the two companies' leases weren't as close as advertised. EQT's capital expenditures went up, not down, in the third quarter of 2018, leading the combined company's stock to drop.

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Cambridge, Guam and the Northeast Carpenters funds are represented by M. Janet Burkardt, Jocelyn P. Kramer and Victor Kustra of Weiss Burkardt Kramer LLC, Gerald H. Silk, Hannah Ross, Avi Josefson and Michael D. Blatchley of Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP, and Steven J. Toll and S. Douglas Bunch of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC.

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