RIM to Possibly Select New Chairman

By Monica Gleberman January 05, 2012

Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM), the provider of the BlackBerry smartphone recently had a report leak that claimed the company may name an independent chairman to appease investors wanting to see a leadership change. This move would reportedly relieve the company’s current Co-Chief Executives, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie of their positions on the company’s board of directors.

The shareholder pressure is due in large part to a rough 2011 for RIM, in which the smartphone and tablet maker dealt with a decline in market share as market earnings came in well below expectations. On top of that, the company saw shrinking stock prices, multiple product delays, employee layoffs, and service outages. Additionally, the company apparently lost $485 million on unsold PlayBook tablet inventory, causing shareholders to become concerned about the stability of the company..

Former Royal Bank of Canada Chief Operating Officer, Barbara Stymiest, a RIM Director, may become the leading candidate for the job, the National Post reported today, citing unidentified sources familiar with the situation.

Currently, a committee of independent directors is reviewing the company’s leadership structure and the panel will report findings by the end of January. RIM spokeswoman Marisa Conway said in an email today that there is a strict deadline. “The RIM’s board will then respond publicly to any recommendations,” she said in a statement, declining to address any other details.

Northwest & Ethical, which was promised a role in studying leadership changes in exchange for withdrawing a proposal to split the chairman and CEO roles in June, had “yet to have any substantial discussions about the review as of late November” added Robert Walker, Northwest’s vice president of Ethical Funds.

If RIM fails to complete the leadership report by the Jan. 31 deadline, Northwest will again push for an investor vote on splitting the roles said Walker.

Regardless of what happens, it’s clear that RIM is facing major changes in 2012 and is hoping to rebound for their 2011 losses. They are also set to release their new BlackBerry 10 operating system, which has been under development for months.

The new operating system will also power a line of BlackBerry smartphones that will favor touch over full physical keyboards and enable users to run Android apps alongside native QNX and BlackBerry 10 apps. The new operating system, which was supposed to launch early this year has been delayed.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

Contributing Writer

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