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Notebaert to Qwit Qwest

Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q) CEO Richard Notebaert has announced plans to retire from the company he has run since 2002. He will step down once a replacement can be found. (See Notebaert to Retire From Qwest.)

Notebaert took the reigns of Qwest in 2002 from Joseph Nacchio, now a convicted felon, while the company was in the midst of an accounting scandal that left it $26 billion in debt. Notebaert is credited helping Qwest stop the bleeding enough to return profitability.

But the increase in earnings has come as a result of a cost cutting strategy rather than a growing business. While the company is certainly far healthier than it was a few years ago, it relies on partners to help it in the key telco growth areas of wireless calling (offered by reselling Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) services) and residential video (offered by reselling DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) services).

While Qwest's peers AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) aggressively pursue their own fiber based video strategies, Qwest under Notebaert has taken a conservative wait-and-see approach to see what customers will end up demanding the most in the future. (See Qwest's Quest for Video .)

Qwest has not yet set a timetable for finding a replacement for Notebaert. Notebaert will be speaking today at 2:45 p.m. EDT at the Bear Sterns Technology Conference.

You can grade Notebaert's performance as CEO of Qwest by taking our poll. (See Notebaert: Pass or Fail?)

— Raymond McConville, Reporter, Light Reading

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