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Ed Mueller image credit to The Denver Post

The man who sold Denver-based Qwest to a smaller telecommunications company is stepping down from the buyer’s board of directors a year early.

Ed Mueller, who served as Qwest’s chairman and chief executive from 2007 to 2011, will resign from CenturyLink’s board when the company holds its annual shareholders meeting May 23, according to a regulatory filing.

Mueller assumed the board seat after CenturyLink acquired Qwest in April 2011, and the term was scheduled to run until 2013. The company declined to comment about his resignation.

The move comes as Monroe, La.-based CenturyLink continues to downsize its footprint in the Denver area through layoffs, attrition and organizational restructuring.

The company has shed about 700 jobs in Colorado over the past year and now employs 6,700 in the state.

CenturyLink recently initiated a companywide “cost realignment process” that led to 1,300 layoffs, including 170 in Colorado, spokesman John Hall said. Some Colorado jobs cuts have covered redundancies, such as accounting and administrative roles.

The company also folded the Business Markets Group, a Denver-based division headed by former Qwest executive Chris Ancell, into a new division called Enterprise Markets Group. Ancell is leaving the company as part of the reorganization, though the Enterprise Markets Group will be based in Denver. It will be headed by Jim Ousley, chief executive of Savvis, which CenturyLink acquired after its deal for Qwest.

Even though its workforce is shrinking, the company said it remains committed to the Colorado market.

In 2011, CenturyLink invested $220 million in its network in the state.

“Our goal is continue to provide better broadband to customers in Colorado,” Hall said.

The company also said that its employees and retirees in Colorado continue to pledge to volunteer 100,000 hours of service in the community each year.

But perhaps the most noise CenturyLink has made in town has come from its lobbying efforts against a bill that proposes to cut off a $50 million annual ratepayer-funded subsidy. That campaign has included sending thousands of e-mails to state lawmakers, which are considering whether to phase out the Colorado High Cost Support Mechanism, a outdated program created in the mid-1990s to help ensure that all residents have access to affordable phone service.
Andy Vuong, The Denver Post