NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
El Paso Corp. confirmed Monday that its senior vice president and treasurer, Charles Dana Rice, died Sunday in what authorities have called a suicide.
Rice suffered from serious and multiple health problems, a person close to the situation told CNNfn.
"I can confirm that he passed away yesterday, and it is our understanding that it was a suicide," El Paso spokeswoman Norma Dunn said, adding she had no more information about Rice's death at present.
Rice, 47, had been with El Paso for 25 years and is survived by his wife. The couple had no children.
El Paso had been in the process of discussing early retirement options with Rice, who was at work last Friday, Dunn said.
The senior executive's death has been ruled a suicide, Houston policewoman Sylvia Trevino told CNNfn. Rice died Sunday at his Houston home of a gunshot wound, Trevino said.
News of Rice's death caused El Paso (EP: down $3.59 to $22.06, Research, Estimates) shares to plunge more than 16 percent early Monday afternoon.
El Paso Chairman William Wise called Rice's death "tragic" but said the market reaction was unwarranted. The Houston-based energy trader last week slashed its earnings guidance for the next two years as it disclosed plans to cut its energy trading business significantly and increase investment in natural gas.
The company is trying to reposition itself amid the recent turmoil in the energy industry over fuzzy accounting touched off by the collapse of Enron Corp.
"There is no indication that Rice's death has to do with the results of this company," spokeswoman Dunn said.