Originally published in the 2022, Issue-2, of the Retiree Guardian, newsletter of the CenturyLink Retirees.
Time Capsule – Twenty Years Ago in our History
Shared by Cynthia Hadsell
“Preparation for the 2002 Shareholders Meeting” From May 26, 2002 Denver Business Journal
Much to the dismay of many shareholders, Denver-based Qwest’s annual meeting will be in the unlikely locale of Dublin, Ohio June 4, 2002, and it’s certain to create some fireworks after the telephone company’s paltry performance in the past year.
Qwest’s CEO Joe Nacchio justified the location saying it’s the fourth or fifth largest employee base in Qwest. Local shareholders and retirees are not happy about it and they plan to let Nacchio know. “We have to go where it is — if we stay away, he wins,” said Bruce McDowell, a representative of the CWA and a Qwest employee.
Hazel Floyd, Colorado president of the Association of U S West Retirees, plans to attend the meeting to support two shareholder proposals on the ballot which she helped sponsor. One would require advance shareholder approval of certain severance agreements and the other excludes non-recurring accounting rule income for certain performance-based compensation.
Floyd tried to pass these same proposals last year and failed, but she said they have a better shot this year. “In light of the Enron CEO thing, I think we’re going to get more [votes] than anticipated,” Floyd said. Floyd doesn’t think the proposals will pass because Qwest co-chairman Philip Anschutz owns 40 percent voting power.
The Colorado Retirees president is saddened by the state of Qwest. The company posted $698 million loss in the first quarter of this year and share prices were around $5 last week. “Our CEO is in the news every day,” she said. Floyd suspects the annual meeting was moved to Dublin so Nacchio and the board wouldn’t have to face large numbers of disgruntled shareholders and employees.
Despite all the negative headlines and substantial financial losses, some analysts believe the telecom company will recover and avoid bankruptcy which has befallen many of its telecom counterparts. Qwest would have to get into a liquidity crunch and not be able to rollover its debt for it to be forced into bankruptcy and it has a lot of options before that happens, an analyst said. One being the sale of its yellow pages which is expected to fetch between $8 billion and $10 billion.
“Turning Point at the 2002 Annual Shareholders Meeting,” from Denver Post
In June 2002, Qwest retiree Jo Lynne Whiting traveled from Denver to Dublin, Ohio, to look Qwest chief executive Joe Nacchio in the eye at the company’s annual shareholder meeting. “I would like for Phil (Anschutz) and the rest of the board to terminate you, Joe, for cause, and I believe the case is compelling,” Whiting told Nacchio in front of a crowd of 300. “When you took over U S West, the stock was $50. And now it is $5.”
Nacchio thanked Whiting for her comments, despite calling some of them “incorrect.”
“Nacchio out at Qwest” Telecom CEO faced criticism for $27M pay, debt downgrade, SEC probe. June 17, 2002 from CNNMoney
Joseph Nacchio resigned Monday as CEO of Qwest Communications International Inc., the western U.S. telecom he helped to build, and was replaced by former Ameritech CEO Richard Notebaert, 54. Qwest shares rallied following the news, paring year-to-date losses to about 68 percent.
Nacchio, 52, came under fire from company shareholders at the company’s annual meeting earlier this month for his $27 million compensation package plus stock options he received last year. Qwest endured a downgrade of its debt to “junk bond” status and eliminated dividend payments. And the company said it faces an accounting probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company’s statement said Nacchio was resigning to spend more time with his family and pursue other opportunities.
“Dick Notebaert, 54, may be just what the doctor ordered for Qwest,” independent telecom analyst Jeff Kagan told Reuters. “He’s got the experience, the track record and the demeanor that should be very helpful to rebuilding shareholder confidence.”
Hazel Floyd had retired from Mountain Bell in 1983 after 30 years. She helped found the Association of U S West Retirees (AUSWR). This was a passion for her for the remainder of her life. In all of the things she did, she considered this her most important work. Hazel died in 2014.
Bruce McDowell retired in 2005 along with his wife, Cathy. Soon after, on a motorcycle trip, they discovered the charm of southwest Nebraska towns as a retirement location. McCook, Nebraska, was the nearest town with Qwest service so that’s where they bought a house and settled in. Bruce served seven years on the City Council and on a number of community boards. Cathy has been the executive director of the CASA program. The McDowells have added greatly to McCook! .
Jo Lynne Whiting retired from Qwest in 2000 as a VP. She is a civic leader in the Denver area with a focus on environmental and women’s issues. She is a sought-after speaker on diversity and inclusion and its link to superior organization performance.
Dick Notebaert retired from Qwest in 2007 after successfully saving it from bankruptcy. He has served on business and community boards and is a Trustee Emeriti of University of Notre Dame du Lac.
Joe Nacchio was indicted in 2005 on 42 counts of criminal insider trading. He was convicted in 2007 and imprisoned 2009 – 2013. In 2016, Nacchio sued his personal financial advisor and was awarded $14 million.