Qwest Shareholders Turn Thumbs Down on Proxy Issues

May 26, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Shareholders of Qwest Communications International Inc. handily turned down three proposals aimed at increasing board independence and shareholders' voting rights at the company's annual meeting.

A proposal to amend the company’s bylaws to require an independent director who has not served as chief executive to be the board chairman failed, with only 28.05% of the votes cast in favor and 70.8% against it, Dow Jones reported.  

A proposal calling for independent board members without business ties to the firm drew only slightly more support, while a proposal requesting shareholder approval for certain pension benefits for senior executives was turned away by a 69.3% to 29.5% margin, according to Dow Jones, citing a preliminary count.

The proposals were supported by the company’s 23,000-member retirement group – the Association of US West Retirees – as well as by the California State Teacher’s Retirement System (CalSTRS), which holds about 4.48 million Qwest common shares. Two leading shareholder advisory firms, Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis & Co., also supported the proposals.

Qwest’s board had urged shareholders to vote against the proposals.