Optical/IP Networks

RIM Co-Chairman Shake-up Coming This Month

BlackBerry could be starting the new year with a change in its leadership as the company is planning to replace its co-chairmen by the end of the month, according to a report Tuesday in the Financial Post.

Citing unnamed sources, the Post suggests that RIM will succumb to shareholder pressure and remove co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie from their chairmen status. Barbara Stymiest, an independent director who has served on RIM's board since 2007, is slated to become the Canadian company's first independent chair.

RIM's governance structure has been under review since last July by a committee of seven independent directors, including Stymiest. The committee is scheduled to reveal its recommendation by Jan. 31, at which time the full board, including Lazaridis and Balsillie, will have 30 days to respond.

Why this matters
Calls for a shake-up at the top of RIM have been growing louder for a while now, but at least two people -- Lazaridis and Balsillie -- haven't supported the change. They exuded optimism on the company's third-quarter earnings call last month, cut their salaries to $1 and promised to step up brand marketing this year. But, after another quarter in which its market share, revenues and shares continued to slip, the company's shareholders appear ready for a fresh start. (See RIM Reports 27% Quarterly Profit Dive.)

Lazaridis and Balsillie combined own 12 percent of RIM, making them hard to oust completely, but this move would give them less control. It would also give Stymiest the challenge of maintaining momentum until RIM's QNX-based "super-phones" are ready in the second half of the year, as well as building up RIM's status in tablets, following Tuesday's price cuts and weak sales of only 850,000 so far. (See RIM Blames Chipsets for BlackBerry 10 Delay.)

For more
2011 wasn't kind to RIM. Read up on the company's many woes below. — Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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