The Association of U S West Retirees



Group seeking telco performance-pay link
By Jeff Smith
Rocky Mountain News
Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Association of U S West Retirees is urging Qwest shareholders to back three proposals that would tie executive compensation to performance, according to a regulatory filing last week.  The proposals by the retirees group and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees are included in shareholder proxy materials in advance of the Denver telco's May 23 annual meeting.

  One proposal requests a policy requiring at least 75 percent of "equity-based" compensation, such as stock options and restricted stock, to be based on performance criteria.

  Another seeks shareholder approval of extraordinary executive retirement benefits.

  A third would allow shareholders to provide an advisory vote on senior executive compensation packages.

"There's really no strings attached (to these stock awards to top executives)," said Nelson Phelps, executive director of the Association of U S West Retirees.  "They end up being more than the bonus and salary together.  It seems like an automatic handout from the board."

The retirees group cited Portland, Maine-based Corporate Library, which rated Qwest's corporate governance a "D" partly because of high executive compensation packages.

Qwest spokeswoman Diane Reberger, however, said Institutional Shareholder Services this year gave Qwest high marks for corporate governance, saying the telco outperformed more than 90 percent of the Standard & Poor's 500.

Qwest is asking shareholders to vote against the proposals, saying they would place the company at a "substantial disadvantage" in attracting and retaining talented executives.

CEO Dick Notebaert received nearly $25 million in compensation last year.  That included a $1.1 million salary, $4.1 million in bonuses, stock and option awards valued at $16.7 million, $332,000 for personal use of a corporate jet, and other perks.,2777,DRMN_23910_5513926,00.html