Five years after taking the reins as the chief executive of Qwest Communications, Richard Notebaert confirmed plans Monday to retire as the company’s chairman and CEO as soon as a successor is found. Before arriving at Qwest in 2002, Notebaert served as chairman and CEO of Ameritech Corporation before SBC Communications acquired Ameritech in 1999. At the time of Notebaert’s accession, Qwest was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy as a result of an accounting scandal in which the company’s former CEO, Joseph Nacchio, was found to be a key participant. (Nacchio was found guilty of 19 counts of insider trading this past April and is scheduled to be sentenced next month.) Since then, Notebaert has been credited with turning around Qwest’s financial fortunes and has been praised as an effective, no-nonsense manager. While expanding Qwest’s portfolio as a reseller of wireless and satellite television services, Notebaert lost a protracted and well-publicized bidding war to take over MCI in 2005, as MCI ultimately accepted a rival merger offer from Verizon Communications. Acknowledging “the time has come for me to spend more time with family and focus on other commitments,” Notebaert said he would leave Qwest “only when the board has selected a leader who shares our vision and will continue to guide Qwest’s solid performance and reputation as a leading national communications provider.”