Today he’s announced he’s selling the company for the stock equivalent of $6.02 a share to CenturyLink. Click here for the official press release.
This is a guy who made more than $12 million in 2009 and more than $11 million in 2008.
Was he worth it?
Not if CEOs are to be judged by strictly their stock price. But bear in mind that the stock market isn’t what it used to be, and that when Mueller took over the company, it was clearly headed no where.
Former CEO Dick Notebaert had come to Qwest with the mantra: “The Spirit of Service.” He stabilized the company after the management team before him nearly bankrupted it amid an accounting fraud scandal on par with Enron.
This disgraced management team included Denver billionaire whiz Phil Anschutz, who was Qwest’s co-chairman; now-imprisoned felon Joe Nacchio, who was Qwest’s CEO; and Thomas Donohue, who was on Qwest’s board and is now running the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where he fights against the kind of financial reforms that might curb debacles like Qwest.
At its peak, Qwest was valued at $60 billion. This team brought it down to pretty close to zero.
And before this self-dealing crew came along, Qwest was led by one shoddy management team after the next.
With an anything-for-a-buck mentality, they sold off cable and got out of the wireless business. So today, Qwest is little more than an ever-shrinking landline business with some highly commoditized long-distance fiber and an unwieldy pile of debt.
Frankly, I’m surprised Mueller was able to find a buyer at any price. My hat’s off to him for doing something that values Qwest at about $22 billion, even if half of that is debt.
As for Qwest employees and Qwest’s hometown of Denver, you know the drill. Another corporate headquarters bolts the state. More job cuts and a lot more vacant real estate downtown.
This will mark another sizeable setback for the state’s economy. How’s that for “The Spirit of Service”?