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Platinum Sol

US West's golden CEO just keeps getting richer and richer.

Stay tuned.

Alas, it's unfair to single out Trujillo as the only person profiting from the telecommunications merger. According to the SEC filings, the services of other US West executives were considered too valuable to lose, so they, too, were given retention agreeements as well. These will be handed out in the form of cash awards and stock options.

Executive Vice President for Operations and Technology Greg Winn, for instance, stands to score about $30 million for not jumping ship when US West mutates into Qwest Communications International. This prize will arrive in the form of stock options (350,000 of them), cash (a $3.9 million "retention cash award") and the value of stock options that will become vested on the date of the merger (about $6.5 million). Chief Financial Officer Allan Spies is looking at a $20 million merger payday -- about the same figure that Executive Vice President for Marketing Mark Roellig should see.

Sol's wisdom: US West CEO Sol Trujillo knows how to deal.
Sol's wisdom: US West CEO Sol Trujillo knows how to deal.

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Previous Westword articles

"Liars on the Line,"
November 11, 1999
While US West delayed service for months, the company stockpiled millions.
By Stuart Steers

"Bells Are Ringing,"
August 12, 1999
US West put service on the line so it could make the deal.
By Stuart Steers

"Disconnected,"
April 8, 1999
As US West pulls strings at the legislature, it could cut the lines to competition.
By Stuart Steers

"Calling to Collect,"
October 23, 1997
The City of Denver declares war on the state legislature over a telephone bill.
By Stuart Steers

"Circling the Wagons,"
November 7, 1996
Consumer groups are banding together to fight off US West's rate hikes.
By Stuart Steers

"Hide and Seek,"
October 3, 1996.
US West's game: keep its service record hidden from public view while charging the public more money.
By Stuart Steers

"Dial 'M' for Monopoly,"
July 7, 1996
In the brave new world of telecommunications, US West has an ace up its sleeve: the residential phone customer.
By Stuart Steers

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Don't cry for Qwest CEO Nacchio, either. According to his retention deal, also filed with the SEC this past fall, the merger of his company and U.S. West entitles him to nine million shares of Qwest. With a guaranteed purchase price of $28 and the stock trading at about $45 as of last week, that's a $153 million payday.

And that's not all. According to the SEC filing, "In connection with the merger, and in recognition of the additional duties and responsibilities incumbent upon Mr. Nacchio in connection with effectuation of the merger and his anticipated role in the management of the combined company, Qwest and Mr. Nacchio have entered into certain modifications to the terms of his employment."

One such modification calls for the CEO to get a 47 percent base salary increase, from $680,000 to $1,000,000. That figure will also be helpful when it comes time to calculate Nacchio's annual target bonus, which the new deal increases to 150 percent of his salary, rather than the previous 110 percent. For anyone still counting, that's another potential $1.5 million. As a final contract modification, Qwest's board of directors agreed to make a "growth share" payment to Nacchio on January 1, 2001. That check will be worth just under $25.5 million.

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