All eyes on Qwest?

Qwest, after staying out of the limelight might be back to making news again. There are rumors that the company chief executive, Dick Notebaert is headed to Motorola as the beleaguered handset maker’s next chief executive.

bq. Thanks to the scandals that took place under Nacchio, Qwest has been unable to file a proper quarterly or annual SEC report the entire time Notebaert has been CEO. [Rocky Mountain News]

Does his move have anything to do with the winning ways of Cubbies? After all he in an Ameritech-alumni and has a special fondness for the might bats of the Wrigley Field.

bq. In an e-mail to some employees wondering about the Motorola rumor, Notebaert wrote: “We all need to be focused on satisfying the customer and the Spirit of Service . . . that’s our top priority and what I spend my time thinking about.” [Rocky Mountain News]Or is there something more sinister brewing at Qwest?

Some sources have hinted that the Securities & Exchange Commission is all set to indict some key former officials at the company, mostly in relation to shares-for-order deals. While this is not new, the word is that SEC might be getting tough on these kinds of shenanigans and is looking to conduct a “perp-walk.” As you might already know companies like CoSine and RedBack are under the microscope for giving stock options and other benefits to some Qwest executives in exchange of hefty equipment orders. I see it as a bribe; others see it as spreading the butter. Potato, Poatato… same difference. And then there is the serious overhang of the Tellium case where most senior executives including Joe Nacchio got stock and ordered optical gear.

bq. Tellium landed a $300 million contract from Qwest in 2001. Redback disclosed in its SEC filing that it sold $82.5 million of gear to Qwest in 2000 and 2001. In the same years, Redback bought $13.5 million of services from Qwest.[ Denver Post]

And that is not all. The Post reports that a “top Redback executive and a former Redback director have ties to Qwest. And they would be Joel Arnold, a former Qwest sales manager who left the company in December 2001 and was sued by the SEC in February, joined Redback in 2002. Vinod Khosla, a director at Qwest, served on Redback’s board until last year.”

But wait there is more for we have heard that the Enron-Qwest capacity swap deals might be under investigation as well.

bq. According to Enron’s bankruptcy proceedings, the deal was signed Sept. 30, 2001 – the last day of the quarter. Qwest acquired from Enron Broadband a fiber-optic cable route from Salt Lake City to New Orleans, and other assets for $308 million. Enron Broadband agreed to pay Qwest $195.5 million for network capacity already “lit,” or operational. [Rocky Mountain News]

Given all this, maybe Qwest’s new CEO is finally saying good riddance to it all and moving back to Chicago? Hmmmmmm!