Qwest not involved in suspicious trading
By Ross Wehner, Denver Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 6, 2005

Qwest chief executive Richard Notebaert said Thursday that Qwest had no involvement with suspicious trading activity of Qwest stock during the bidding war for MCI.

"I don't trade in my own stock," said Notebaert in an interview with The Denver Post. "None of us do."

Notebaert did not rule out the possibility that hedge funds may have been involved with manipulation of Qwest stock.  Manipulation of share prices is illegal under U.S. securities law.

"This isn't about Qwest," Notebaert said.  "There's a whole group of people that do arbitrage out there, and those are the folks you should be speaking with."

The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into a series of late-market trading spikes in late March that pushed Qwest's share price above a critical "collar."

Had Qwest's stock closed below the collar, investor confidence in Qwest's cash-and- stock bid for MCI could have been damaged.

Hedge funds and other sophisticated Wall Street investors, who control up to 70 percent of MCI, have benefited from Qwest's presence in the bidding war with Verizon.

Qwest's higher bids forced Verizon to raise its bid twice, which has propelled MCI's share price from around $20 in February to Thursday's closing price of $25.50.

MCI on Monday locked in its previously negotiated merger agreement with Verizon.

Staff writer Ross Wehner can be reached at 303-820-1503 or rwehner@denverpost.com