Qwest eliminates top execs' annual cash perk

Payment of up to $75,000 dropped after stockholders complain

Executives at Qwest Communications International Inc. will no longer receive their “flexible” annual expense accounts of up to $75,000.

In filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the parent company of Networx Universal and Enterprise contracts holder Qwest Government Services, reported its compensation committee’s decision to “eliminate the annual flexible benefit payments to certain executives.”

The perk came under fire from a shareholder during the company’s annual meeting in May, according to an Associated Press report.

Executives received the payments in full, in cash at the beginning of each year “in lieu of the various perquisites commonly paid to executives at other companies,” the company said in its annual proxy statement.

Recipients could use the money they saw fit and without explanation.

For 2009, the executives receiving the cash included:

  • Chairman and CEO Edward Mueller — $75,000.
  • Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Thomas Richards — $50,000.
  • Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel Richard Baer — $50,000.
  • Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Joseph Euteneuer — $50,000.

The payments were meant to cover “expenses such as financial counseling, physical exams and club memberships,” the Denver Post reported.

In addition to his base salary of $1.2 million, Mueller also receives bonuses of not less than 200 percent of his salary, provided the company meets certain board-specified objectives.

He also receives stock, a month’s paid vacation annually; health, retirement and other benefits and perquisites for himself and his family; a $40,000 annual expense account; use of the company jet for all business and professional travel for himself and his family; a home security system; and extensive severance benefits.

Qwest Communications International, of Denver, ranks No. 55 on Washington Technology’s 2009 Top 100 list of the largest federal government prime contractors.

About the Author

Sami Lais is a special contributor to Washington Technology.

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