El Paso Corp. has completed the removal of the ratings triggers on its $1 billion Clydesdale minority interest financing, which concludes a plan announced in December to remove ratings triggers on $4 billion of securities in order to strengthen its balance sheet.

Ratings triggers require a company to accelerate payments on financing when its credit is downgraded to a certain level. El Paso said that the ratings triggers in its Chaparral and Gemstone investments and its Trinity River and Clydesdale minority interest financing transactions have now been eliminated. The only triggers that remain are on a $300 million financing that has an upcoming maturity date in November, El Paso said.

Given the current financial crisis in the energy industry, ratings triggers can turn an otherwise modest decline in credit quality into a liquidity crisis. Investors have fled energy stocks in recent months in the wake of the defaults of Enron Corp. and the California utilities. However, Standard & Poors said earlier this year that El Paso was not among those companies most in danger of falling off a credit cliff. The company now is in an even better position with far less likelihood of a credit-related financial crisis.

El Paso shares were up nearly 2% Monday morning to $13.61 despite negative news from other energy companies. The Williams Companies reported that it would post a second quarter loss. As a result investors sent Williams shares down more than 40% (see related story).

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