El Paso Board Gets Thumbs Up from 6% Shareholder

San Diego-based Brandes Investment Partners LLC, which owns 6% of the common shares of El Paso, said on Friday it will vote to keep the current board of directors. On May 31, Brandes owned nearly 36 million shares of the company, however some of its clients retain voting discretion.

"While acknowledging the seriousness of the problems at El Paso and the impact the dissident group has had in creating healthy pressure for positive changes at El Paso, at this time Brandes believes its clients will be best served by maintaining stability in management of El Paso," Brandes said in a statement.

The company said it conducted a "careful evaluation over an extended time period" before making its decision. "Brandes Investment Partners is a strong supporter of best practices in corporate governance. While acknowledging the seriousness of the problems at El Paso and the impact the dissident group has had in creating healthy pressure for positive changes at El Paso, at this time Brandes believes its clients will be best served by maintaining stability in management of El Paso. Brandes' view is that current management -- which has changed in significant ways over the past year -- appears poised to build upon recent initiatives that have already improved El Paso's governance, business practices, and financial outlook."

Brandes said it "considered" the opposition to the re-election of the board by Institutional Shareholder Services, which was made last Tuesday (see Daily GPI, June 4). "Brandes recognizes the value of ISS research and, in many cases, has concurred with its recommendations. In this case, however, Brandes believes support of current management is in the best interests of its clients."

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