Thu, Jan 05, 2012 - Page 10 News List

BlackBerry maker rises on possible leadership change

Bloomberg

Research in Motion co-CEO Jim Balsillie, right, and president and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis listen during the annual general meeting of shareholders on July 14, 2009, in Waterloo, Canada.

Photo: Reuters

Research In Motion Ltd (RIM), maker of the BlackBerry smartphone, surged the most in almost two weeks on Tuesday after a report said the company might name an independent chairman to appease investors wanting to see a leadership change.

Former Royal Bank of Canada chief operating officer Barbara Stymiest, a RIM director, may be the leading candidate for the job, the National Post reported on Tuesday, citing unidentified sources familiar with the situation.

A committee of independent directors is reviewing the company’s leadership structure. The panel will report findings by Jan. 31, RIM spokeswoman Marisa Conway said on Monday by e-mail, reiterating a previously stated deadline.

RIM’s board will then respond publicly to any recommendations, she said, declining to address the Post’s report.

RIM is facing demands from investors led by Northwest & Ethical Investments LP to name an independent chairman — a role currently shared by co-chief executive officers Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis — to inject fresh thinking. RIM is losing market shares as BlackBerry models introduced last year failed to stem customer defections to Apple Inc’s iPhone and devices built on Google Inc’s Android platform.

RIM, based in Waterloo, Ontario, rose 7 percent to US$15.51 at the close in New York, the biggest gain since Dec. 21. The stock dropped 75 percent last year.

The firm’s share of cellphone subscribers in the US, where sales declines have been steepest, dropped to 6.5 percent in the three months through November, from 7.1 percent in the previous quarter, according to research firm ComScore Inc.

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, Northwest vice president of ethical funds Robert Walker said in an interview at the time.

If a report isn’t done by Jan. 31, Northwest will again push for an investor vote on splitting the roles, he said then.

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