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Anschutz likely sold chunk of Qwest shares
The phone company may have bought the shares, worth about $250 million, in a buyback program.
By Andy Vuong, Staff Writer
Denver Post
Friday, January 12, 2007

Qwest founder Philip An schutz, who has significantly trimmed his stake in the phone company in recent months, likely sold 31 million more shares this week, according to a Wall Street analyst.

The average price of the sale was $8.12 a share, for a total value of roughly $250 million, JPMorgan analyst Jonathan Chaplin wrote in a research note Thursday.

Chaplin speculated that Qwest purchased some of the shares as part of its stock buyback program.

In November, Anschutz cut his direct holdings in Qwest to roughly 66.4 million shares after selling and donating nearly 80 million shares.  Anschutz also sold shares in June, July and October.  In November 2003, he held 300.4 million Qwest shares.

Anschutz Co., the Denver financier's investment firm, has typically entered into a "forward sale agreement" in which the shares are sold over several quarters.  The agreement allows Anschutz to keep the voting rights of the shares until they're sold.

Qwest spokeswoman Diane Reberger and Anschutz spokesman Jim Monaghan declined to comment Thursday.

"We believe it is likely that the company purchased some, if not all, of the shares sold ... under its share repurchase program," Chaplin wrote in his note.

Qwest announced in October that it would buy back up to $2 billion of its stock over two years.  Such buyback programs can boost investor confidence in the company.

Qwest chief executive Dick Notebaert told The Post in December that the buyback had already started.

Chaplin wrote in his note that he expects Qwest to have repurchased at least $500 million to $750 million by the time it files its 2006 annual report, which is usually filed with regulators in February.

Qwest stock closed Thursday at $8.38, up 9 cents.

Staff writer Andy Vuong can be reached at 303-954-1209 or avuong@denverpost.com.

http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_4996961