Drilling contractor

Pride International

(PDE)

said John Blocker Jr., its executive vice president and chief operating officer, has decided to retire from the company and resign as COO, effective immediately.

However, Blocker will continue to be an employee pending the completion of Pride's previously disclosed investigation of its Latin American operations. Pride's management and internal audit department are examining allegations of improper payments to foreign government officials going back a number of years.

Pride said Blocker has been with the company for 13 years. The Houston-based company has no plans to fill the COO position. The former duties of the COO have been reorganized among a group of Pride's vice presidents.

Shares of Pride were down 13 cents, or 0.4%, at $32.22.

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