AUSWR
The Association of U S West Retirees
 

 

 

Qwest shareholders weigh policy changes
Retirees and a union put forward four proposals to be voted on at the annual shareholders meeting. The telecom urges "no" for all.
By Beth Potter, Staff Writer
Denver Post
Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Retirees of US West and a union want the Baby Bell to change its corporate governance policies at Qwest's annual shareholders meeting scheduled today.

Shareholders will vote on four proposals from the two groups regarding executive retirement benefits, performance-based pay, separation of chairman and chief-executive roles and a requirement to have directors elected to the board by a majority vote.

Qwest's proxy statement for the annual meeting recommends that shareholders vote against the four proposals.

About 40 retiree shareholders are expected to attend the company meeting slated for the Denver Performing Arts Complex in downtown Denver, said Nelson Phelps, executive director for the Association of US West Retirees.

The most important, although largely symbolic, issue to retirees is their belief that Qwest should try to recover performance-based pay previously given to executives if it was received based on fraudulent financial results, Phelps said.

Former chief executive Joe Nacchio netted more than $216 million through stock sales, bonuses and other perks in 2000 and 2001, a period for which Qwest later was forced to restate losses of $2.5 billion, according to a federal Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

"This captures what happened under Nacchio and company," Phelps said.

"We don't think it's right. It impacts share owners."

Members of the the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union want Qwest directors to be voted in by a majority, making them more accountable to shareholders.  Currently, directors need only a plurality of votes cast.

The measure targeted company founder Philip Anschutz, before he said earlier this year he would not stand for re-election to the board, said Richard Ferlauto, a spokesman for the union.  Cannon Harvey, president and chief operating officer of the Anschutz Co. and Anschutz Corp., also said he would not stand for re-election.

"If (Anschutz) hadn't voluntarily decided to retire from the board, there was no alternative for shareholders to force him off," Ferlauto said.

Staff writer Beth Potter can be reached at 303-820-1503 or bpotter@denverpost.com.

http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_3857166