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RIM shareholders support plan to appoint a new chairman

Warwick Ashford

Shares in Blackberry maker Research In Motion gained 7% on Tuesday in response to news that the company plans to separate the roles of chairman and chief executive.

The plan, first reported by Canada’s Financial Post, will see co-chief executives Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie give up their role as co-chairs to make way for an independent chairman in line with common North Amercian company practice.

Barbara Stymiest, an independent director who joined the RIM board in 2007, is said to be the frontrunner for the position, according to the Financial Times.

Stymiest is a former chief operating officer at Royal Bank of Canada and former chief executive of the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The change is expected to be announced after the committee appointed to review RIM’s corporate governance submits its recommendations at the end of January, the paper said.

RIM appointed the committee in the face of growing unhappiness among investors because of the company’s poor financial performance, falling share price and loss of market share.

In its third quarter results announcement in December, RIM said it expected sales to drop by up to 18% for its fourth quarter results in March compared to the same period in 2011.

RIM’s third quarter results saw sales fall year-on-year by 6% from $5.2bn (£3.5bn) for its December quarter.

The company estimated that sales would take a much larger hit next quarter ranging from $4.6-$4.9 billion compared with $5.6bn for March 2011.

“As part of our commitment to improving our performance to better meet the expectations of shareholders and customers, we continue to evaluate ways to improve in several areas of the company’s operations,” said Balsillie and Lazaridis.  

“It may take some time to realise the benefits of these efforts and the platform transition that we are undertaking, but we continue to believe that RIM has the right set of strengths and capabilities to maintain a leading role in the mobile communications industry,” they said in a statement.


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