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Jana says EQT can save $4.5 billion by scrapping Rice Energy deal

FILE PHOTO - Barry Rosenstein, founder and managing Partner of JANA Partners LLC., speaks during the Sohn Investment Conference in New York May 4, 2015.

Jana Partners LLC stepped up its criticism on Wednesday of U.S. natural gas producer EQT Corp's (EQT.N) deal to buy Rice Energy Inc (RICE.N), arguing that EQT could save as much as $4.5 billion if it separated its pipeline assets instead.

Jana founder and managing partner Barry Rosenstein wrote in a letter to EQT's board of directors that the company was overpaying for Rice Energy and that the activist hedge fund's proposal would deliver more value.

Jana disclosed a 5.8 percent stake in EQT on Monday, saying that it believed EQT shares were undervalued and it would vote against the Rice Energy deal.

EQT announced on June 19 that it would buy Rice for $6.7 billion in cash and stock, which...