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US West Head to Leave Merged Company

March 01, 2000|From Reuters

NEW YORK — US West Inc. Chairman Sol Trujillo, citing disagreements with his counterpart at Qwest Communications International Inc. over strategy and responsibilities, said Tuesday that he would leave after the telephone companies complete their planned $36-billion merger.

"Even though we have agreed on a wide range of issues, we have not found agreement on key strategic issues, including leadership appointments, the structure of the organization and the role of the Office of the Chair," Trujillo said in a prepared statement.

Trujillo said he would remain head of US West, the smallest of the Baby Bell local telephone companies, until the merger closed, then would leave. Trujillo was not available to comment on his plans after that. Qwest representatives did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Shares of Denver-based US West closed up 25 cents at $72.13 on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares of Qwest, also in Denver, gained 25 cents to close at $46.25, also on the NYSE.

Trujillo, a 26-year veteran of US West, was set to be a co-chairman of the joint company and president of the local and wireless telephone operations. Along with Qwest Chairman Joe Nacchio and Qwest founding shareholder Philip Anschutz, he was to form an Office of the Chair overseeing corporate strategy.

Trujillo's departure marks another example of power-sharing arrangements that have failed. Citigroup Inc. Chairman and co-Chief Executive John Reed said on Monday he would retire in April, leaving Sanford Weill as the sole CEO of the No. 1 U.S. financial services group.

Trujillo's role in the combined company had been a major hurdle throughout the US West-Qwest merger negotiations. Trujillo and Nacchio also disagreed on other strategic initiatives, such as the time frame for the expansion of VDSL (very high-speed digital subscriber line) services that provide television, telephone and Internet services over basic telephone wires, sources said.

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