PR firms brought in with El Paso proxy battle heating up

HOUSTON: The two sides in the proxy fight for control of energy company El Paso have each retained PR counsel for what will certainly be one of the most widely watched corporate tugs-of-war this year.

HOUSTON: The two sides in the proxy fight for control of energy company El Paso have each retained PR counsel for what will certainly be one of the most widely watched corporate tugs-of-war this year.

Dissident shareholder Selim K. Zilkha, a former El Paso board member who is trying to oust the company's current board of directors, has retained Kekst & Company as his PR counsel. El Paso is working with Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher.

A Kekst executive declined comment, but Joele Frank issued a statement to PRWeek, stating, "We've been working with El Paso since June 2002 on a variety of issues."

Though not a household name, El Paso is a corporate giant. The company posted combined revenues of $49.6 billion over its last four fiscal quarters.

In the most recent Fortune 500, El Paso ranked 17th.

Nevertheless, the company's shares recently hit an all-time low as it struggles to deal with a raft of problems, including a mountain of debt and a regulatory investigation into its alleged role in energy price manipulation during the California energy crisis of 2000-2001. The company's chairman and CEO also stepped down recently.

Zilkha owns 1.5% of El Paso's outstanding shares.

"As one of the largest stockholders of El Paso Corporation, I have watched with great dismay the disastrous decline in the value of El Paso's securities," read a statement released by Zilkha last Tuesday.

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