Sun, Aug 18, 2013 - Page 13 News List

BlackBerry CEO may get US$55m

AP, TORONTO

BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins could receive almost US$55.6 million if the company is sold and he is ousted from the top job.

Heins would receive US$48 million in equity awards, based on the company’s share price at the end of its latest fiscal year, according to a regulatory filing earlier this year. He would also get US$7.5 million in compensation for his salary and bonus under the change of control provisions in his contract.

The company would pay US$72,000 in benefits and retirement savings. The plan was approved by shareholders at its annual meeting on July 9.

BlackBerry announced that a sale of the company was one option that would be considered under a strategic review of the company, which has lost market share to Apple and Android-based phones. The long-awaited debut of its new phones this year has failed to turn around the struggling smartphone maker.

The company’s strategic review is being headed by Timothy Dattels, a BlackBerry director and a senior partner at TPG Capital, one of the world’s largest private equity firms.

Fairfax Financial and its chief executive, Prem Watsa, which hold approximately 11 percent of BlackBerry, are considered among possible buyers. Watsa resigned from the BlackBerry board on Monday due to potential conflicts of interest.

The BlackBerry, pioneered in 1999, had been the dominant smartphone for on-the-go businesspeople and other consumers before Apple debuted the iPhone in 2007. In the years since, BlackBerry has been hammered by competition from the iPhone as well as Android-based rivals.

Heins was named CEO in January last year, replacing co-founders and co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, who stepped down after shareholders demanded a management shakeup.

CIBC analyst Todd Coupland suggested BlackBerry could be worth as much as US$20 per share in a takeover, and that big technology companies as well as private equity firms could be interested.

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