Mueller, former Williams-Sonoma CEO, to replace Notebaert as chief of Qwest
DENVER (AP) Former Williams-Sonoma Inc. CEO Edward A. Mueller said Monday he plans to focus on fundamentals, especially customer service, as the new head of Qwest Communications International Inc.Mueller, who will replace retiring Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Richard C. Notebaert, also said he has no plans to make major changes, such as a merger or acquisition. Mueller noted that the Denver-based telecom has worked hard in the last five years to pull itself out of financial trouble.Obviously, there are challenges in any business, and were in a sector that is changing as we speak, he told analysts. I do think we win in the end of the day, not through technology but through people and service.Qwest named Mueller, 60, as CEO late Sunday. Its a familiar position for Mueller, who followed Notebaert as chairman of Ameritech Corp. before its merger with SBC Communications Inc., Janco Partners analyst Donna Jaegers said Monday.He seems like a fine choice, she said. Hes got good experience with the Bell System and good experience with a Bell company that might have had some limits on funds for buying and upgrading physical assets.Mueller takes over as Qwest competes for customers in the era of bundled packages that offer telephone, wireless, Internet and television services.Qwest vies with Comcast Corp. across much of its Western territory, countering the cable giants 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 of experience in telecommunications and was president and chief executive officer of Ameritech from 2000 to 2002. He sits on the boards of VeriSign Inc., Clorox Co. and GSC Acquisition Co.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.Notebaerts retirement is effective Wednesday. He pulled the company from the brink of bankruptcy amid a multibillion-dollar accounting scandal after former CEO Joseph Nacchio was forced out in June 2002.Qwests stock rose 20 cents to $8.57 a share in morning trading.Associated Press Writer Colleen Slevin contributed to this report.
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