Qwest CFO slates exit in April
Retirement won't shake telecom's recovery, analyst says
By Andy Vuong, Staff Writer
Thursday, March 1, 2007
Qwest chief financial officer and vice chairman Oren Shaffer
will retire April 1, nearly five years after embarking on the
unenviable task of repairing the financials of a deeply troubled
Along with chief executive officer Dick Notebaert, Shaffer
helped guide Denver-based Qwest from near bankruptcy to
financial stability. Last year, the company posted its first
annual profit since its merger with US West in 2000.
Shaffer said Wednesday he felt it was a good time to call it a
career and doesn't have plans to pursue another lengthy
challenge. He'll be succeeded by Qwest controller and chief
accounting officer John W. Richardson, who joined Qwest in April
"I'm going to be 65 in a couple of months," Shaffer said in a
phone interview from Belgium. "This is the third time I've
retired. I think my wife would sincerely hope that it's the
Shaffer previously retired as CFO from Goodyear Tire & Rubber
Co. in 1992 and Ameritech in 2000.
While he is cutting his day-to-day work, Shaffer will remain on
the board of directors of a large phone company in Belgium, a
technology company in Seattle and a family of mutual funds in
He plans to remain in Denver after his retirement.
During his tenure at Qwest, Shaffer shaved about $11 billion in
debt from the company's books through a series of restructurings
and sales of noncore assets, including its yellow-pages
For his efforts, Shaffer earned more than $30 million, including
$18.47 million from exercising 3.3 million stock options and
selling the shares in November. He still holds about 3.6
million options, with 1 million vested.
Notebaert praised Shaffer's accomplishments.
"We are very fortunate to have had him come out of retirement
almost five years ago," Notebaert said in a statement.
Notebaert and Shaffer worked together for more than five years
at Ameritech in the 1990s. They both left shortly after
Ameritech was acquired by SBC Communications.
It's unclear how much longer Notebaert, who joined Qwest a month
before Shaffer, will remain with the company. Notebaert was in
New York on Wednesday and was unavailable for an interview.
"I would guess he's still having fun, and I know he's still
fully engaged," Shaffer said.
Qwest is awarding Notebaert just more than 1 million stock
options and $3.85 million worth of restricted stock next week,
according to a regulatory filing Wednesday. The options and
restricted stock won't vest until 2010 unless Qwest is acquired
or its stock trades at or above $10.50 for 90 straight days.
Qwest stock closed Wednesday at $8.88, up 30 cents. Analysts
said Shaffer's retirement doesn't signal unforeseen problems
with Qwest's financials.
"If I were a shareholder, I wouldn't worry about Oren's
departure," said Donna Jaegers, an analyst with Janco Partners.
"You can't force a man that's made as much money as he has in
his life to work a whole lot past 65. He should have some time
off to enjoy it."
Chris King, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus, said Shaffer is
leaving Qwest's financials in pretty good shape for Richardson,
who previously worked with Shaffer at Goodyear.
Richardson held a variety of financial positions at Goodyear
from 1967 to 2002. He received a bachelor's degree in business
administration from Ohio University.
Qwest said assistant controller R. William Johnston will replace
Richardson as controller.
"Most of the financial hard work is behind the company," King
Concerns remain, however, about Qwest's ability to fend off
growing competition from cable and Internet-based phone
Staff writer Andy Vuong can be reached at 303-954-1209 or
Current position: Qwest controller and chief accounting officer
What's ahead: Replaces Oren Shaffer as chief financial officer
Current position: Qwest chief financial officer and vice
What's ahead: The 64-year-old will stay on the boards of three