The Association of U S West Retirees



Qwest Execs Cash in Stock Options
The Associated Press
Washington Post
Friday, November 10, 2006

DENVER -- Three Qwest Communications International Inc. executives made more than $43 million by cashing in stock options, according to regulatory filings this week.

Chief Executive Dick Notebaert made a profit of $18.4 million and Chief Financial Officer Oren Shaffer had a profit of $18.5 million, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Thursday.

Chief Legal Officer Rich Baer made a $6.4 million profit, according to SEC documents filed earlier this week.

Notebaert plans to donate his after-tax proceeds to charities, Qwest spokesman Nicholas Sweers said.  Sweers did not identify the charities.

Shaffer and Baer have not revealed any plans for their proceeds.

The sales were disclosed about a month after Philip Anschutz, Qwest's founder and largest shareholder, contracted to sell 80 million shares through 2010.

Together, the sales are "not a good sign for existing shareholders," Janco Partners telecom analyst Donna Jaegers told The Denver Post in Friday's editions.  "Those are sizable chunks of what they own."

Sweers said the executives still have substantial stock options they have not sold.  With Qwest share prices up by more than 80 percent year-over-year, "All shareholders have been rewarded by the company's financial and operational performance," Sweers said.

Qwest has announced plans to buy back up to $2 billion worth of its stock over two years.

Qwest shares fell 22 cents to close at $8.23 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Notebaert's planned donations prompted Curtis Kennedy, an attorney for Qwest retirees, to quip that Notebaert should consider contributing to the retirees association. The group "is nonprofit and serving the interests of tens of thousands of soon-to-be-impoverished retirees," he told the Rocky Mountain News in Friday's editions.

Qwest retirees are unhappy about planned changes in their benefits.  Company spokesman Bob Toevs said Friday Qwest planned to cap its contribution to health insurance premiums for some retirees and reduce life-insurance benefits for all retirees.

"While this is always a difficult decision and not one we take lightly, Qwest constantly has to evaluate market conditions and costs and adjust (benefits) according," Toevs said.

Denver-based Qwest is the primary phone service provider in 14 Midwestern and Western states.