Proxy advisory firm Egan-Jones Ratings Co. recommended that investors in EQT Corp. vote in favor of nominees by shareholders Toby and Derek Rice, who have been locked in a battle with the natural gas producer.
The Rice brothers, who own about 3% of EQT, have been pushing to overhaul EQT's board, saying that the management was responsible for the company's stock underperformance. The brothers were part of the founding team at Rice Energy, which EQT bought in November 2017.
EQT's shares have fallen nearly 60 percent since it closed the acquisition of Rice Energy.
Egan-Jones' recommendation follows support for the Rice slate of nominees from proxy adviser Institutional Shareholders Services Inc. as well as from top shareholders T. Rowe Price, D.E. Shaw and Kensico Capital Management.
However, proxy adviser Glass Lewis & Co. last week recommended EQT investors vote in favour of the company's board nominees.
"In our view, the incumbent Board and management fall short of the operational skillset to deliver long-term shareholder value," Egan-Jones was quoted as saying in a statement from the Rice team on Friday.
EQT has repeatedly urged shareholders to vote for its own slate of directors, adding that the management had improved the company's financial and operating results while reducing costs in the last six months.
EQT did not immediately respond to a request for comment outside working hours on Friday.
The parties must now renegotiate a deal that would transfer Breitburn's Permian reserves to investors including Elliott and WL Ross through their participation in a $775 million rights offering.
Sustained lower oil prices may lead to Permian consolidation, the return of tough times to other shale plays and U.S. E&Ps helping rebalance global inventories.
A big crowd turned out for an afternoon honoring industry leaders representing all facets of the energy sector.