Protesters target Qwest meeting
By Andy Vuong, Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
About 150 Qwest shareholders and at least one chicken are
expected to flock to the company's annual shareholder meeting
today at the Grand Hyatt in downtown Denver.
As many as two dozen Qwest/US West retirees plan to rally with
the chicken -- actually shareholder-advocate Scott Adams dressed
in a chicken suit -- before the meeting to protest the company's
executive compensation. They believe it to be excessive, citing
chief executive Dick Notebaert's 2006 total compensation of
$22.7 million, which includes salary, bonuses, stock option
awards and perks.
"We want the compensation committee, which is comprised of
members of the board of directors, to give compensation that is
in line with performance," said Adams, who works on pension
policy for the American Federation of State, County and
Municipal Employees and is coming from Oakland, Calif., for the
Analysts credit Notebaert with leading a turnaround of a company
that was on the verge of bankruptcy when he took over in June
2002. Denver-based Qwest has posted five straight quarterly
profits and its stock is trading at five-year highs, closing
Tuesday at $10, down a penny.
Nonetheless, Adams and retirees will be holding signs such as
"Qwest Don't Be a Chicken - Give Shareholders a Say on Pay" in
support of a proposal that would give shareholders an annual
advisory vote on executive compensation. Though the vote would
be nonbinding, it would give shareholders an avenue to express
their opinion about executive pay.
In addition to the so-called "say on pay" proposal, shareholders
are pushing three other initiatives. Those proposals request
- Adopt a policy where at least 75 percent of future equity
compensation (stock options and restricted stock) awarded to all
senior executives shall be based on performance.
- Seek shareholder approval on supplemental executive
- Separate the roles of chief executive and chairman of the
board. Currently, Notebaert holds both titles.
The company's management has urged its shareholders to vote
against all four shareholder proposals.
Qwest's management has three proposals this year. They are
- The re-election of the company's 12 directors.
- The ratification of the company's selection of KPMG as its
independent auditor for 2007.
- The approval of the company's existing equity incentive plan,
which is required every 10 years.
Qwest provides local phone service in 14 states and operates a
nationwide fiber-optic communications network.
Staff writer Andy Vuong can be reached at 303-954-1209 or