Qwest picks former Williams-Sonoma chief as CEO

ByABC News
August 13, 2007, 5:16 PM

DENVER -- Mueller, 60, also said he has no plans to make major changes such as a merger or acquisition noting that the Denver-based company has worked hard the past five years to pull itself out of financial trouble.

"I think it's business as usual as we know it today, and there are opportunities obviously there are challenges in any business and we're in a sector that is changing as we speak," Mueller (pronounced MILLER) told analysts. "I do think we win in the end of the day, not through technology but through people and service."

Qwest announced late Sunday that Mueller will succeed retiring Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Richard Notebaert. It's a familiar position for Mueller. He followed Notebaert as chairman of Ameritech before its merger with SBC.

"He seems like a fine choice," Janco Partners analyst Donna Jaegers said Monday. "He's got good experience with the Bell System and good experience with a Bell company that might have had some limits on its cap-X spending ability."

Mueller takes over as Qwest is in competition for customers in the era of bundles that offer telephone, wireless, Internet and television services.

Qwest faces Comcast across much of its Western territory, countering the cable giant's package with telephone and DSL service, reselling wireless service and DirecTV satellite TV.

Qwest has a limited television service, which Mueller said he believes is a good one, but he will look deeper into each business segment.

Mueller has more than 34 years' experience in telecommunications and was president and chief executive officer of Ameritech from 2000 to 2002. He sits on the boards of VeriSign, Clorox and GSC Acquisition.

He will earn an annual base salary of $1.2 million and a target bonus of up to twice that amount, Qwest said. During 2007, Mueller will receive a guaranteed minimum bonus of $947,000.