S&P Maintains ''Credit Watch Negative'' For ConocoPhillips

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Standard & Poor's Ratings Services today kept the ''A'' corporate credit and senior unsecured debt and the ''A-1'' short-term commercial paper ratings of ConocoPhillips, the third-largest U.S. oil company, on CreditWatch with negative implications. Those ratings will either be affirmed or cut when the ratings agency finalizes its review of the company.

Texas-based ConocoPhillips (COP) was placed on CreditWatch in July after it announced it would spin-off its downstream operations next year. S&P said that transaction will reduce the company's business diversity. After the transaction is complete, Conoco will be the largest U.S. independent oil and gas producer.

As of June 30, ConocoPhillips had about $23 billion of funded debt, according to the Oil & Gas Financial Journal. The company has pledged to retain its current dividend for the exploration and production business after the refining and marketing spin-off.

Conoco has also said plans to repurchase up to $11 billion of its own stock this year and up to $12 billion of its own shares in 2012.