Troubled Qwest parts company with two top executives

Liz Vaughan-Adams
Tuesday 14 January 2014 04:49

The US telecoms firm Qwest Communications insisted yesterday there would be no changes in strategy as it parted company with its chairman and chief executive, Joseph Nacchio, and its non-executive chairman Philip Anschutz.

Qwest, which has some $26bn (£19bn) of debt and is facing a US Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into its accounting practices, said it now needed to focus its energies on rebuilding shareholder value.

Separately, it emerged that at least two bidders were lining up to buy the bulk of the telecoms network owned by KPNQwest, the European telecoms business Qwest helped set up but which filed for bankruptcy last month.

Two consortia are said to be bidding for most of the network while a plethora of others have come forward with offers for just parts of the network, according to sources.

Qwest, which has seen its shares collapse from about $65 to $5 in the past two years, said yesterday that Mr Nacchio had "voluntarily resigned" from his position but would remain on the payroll as a consultant for up to two years.

"After criss-crossing the globe for five and a half gruelling years to build Qwest, living in two different cities, and having achieved our major goals, I have expressed my desire to spend more time with my family and pursue other opportunities," Mr Nacchio said.

His successor, who took up the new post yesterday, is Richard Notebaert, 54, the president and chief executive of the telecoms equipment supplier Tellabs and the former head of Ameritech, the regional Bell company in five Midwestern states. Shares in Qwest rallied on the announcement.

"We need an experienced new leader with strong operational skills for the next phase of the company's development," said Frank Popoff, a member of the Qwest board.

"The board believes Dick is the right CEO to lead Qwest as it takes full advantage of its unique assets and market position for the benefit of all stakeholders," he added.

The company said yesterday that Mr Anschutz would remain with the company as a director and as chairman of its executive committee.

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