Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Little Home Cooking Anyone? Star Steps Down After Sideline Discovered

From the WSJ: Mutual funds bombard investors with detail—but still don't always tell them what they need to know.  Consider the case of Daniel J. Rice III, co-manager of several BlackRock BLK +2.34% funds that invest in energy and other natural-resources stocks. Experts say his personal dealings raise questions about what information investors are entitled to and how closely the fund industry monitors its employees.

As this column reported two weeks ago, BlackRock hasn't disclosed in any of its public filings that Mr. Rice also has a multimillion-dollar side business in the energy industry. A BlackRock spokeswoman says the firm didn't disclose these relationships because it isn't required to.  A subsidiary of Mr. Rice's family company, Rice Drilling B, is a partner in a joint venture to develop natural-gas wells with Alpha Natural Resources, ANR +3.16% a publicly traded coal and natural-gas company based in Bristol, Va., according to Alpha's filings.

Alpha, like many coal stocks, has been tanking—and taking the BlackRock energy funds with it. Alpha has trailed indexes of coal and other energy stocks by 30 to 70 percentage points over the past year.  Mr. Rice hasn't been hurt too badly by that drop, however. According to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, he has only $100,000 to $500,000 of his money riding on his two largest mutual funds combined.  His outside interests are much larger—and their coffers are bulging….

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