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Qwest exec downplays Notebaert comments
Denver Post
Thursday, March 2, 2006

A Qwest finance executive on Wednesday downplayed comments this week by Chief Executive Dick Notebaert that the Denver telco would consider acquisitions outside the telecommunications field.

"Dick was answering a hypothetical question," Qwest Chief Financial Officer Oren Shaffer said at a Merrill Lynch communications forum.  "I think what is important is that (as) Dick has also said . . . that our priority in '06 and beyond will, in fact, be to return value to the shareholders out of our cash flow."

Shaffer cited Wall Street estimates that Qwest could generate $1.2 billion to $1.5 billion in cash flow this year.  Notebaert and Shaffer have said that one option would be to use the cash to resume a dividend to stockholders.

"As far as M&A (merger and acquisition) activity, we have looked at most opportunities as they have come up," Shaffer said.

He said the telco has been "spectacularly unsuccessful" in finding one that meets its criteria of creating value for its shareholders.,2777,DRMN_23916_4507726,00.html