RIM has six months to prove a real business need for its Co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie to retain their roles as Co-Chairmen of the Board, otherwise Northwest & Ethical Investments LP will take action. “We wanted to give them a chance to prove that there is an actual business necessity,” Jennifer Coulson, manager of corporate engagement at Northwest & Ethical, told Bloomberg at Tuesday’s RIM shareholder meeting. NEI threatened last month to file a motion to have RIM’s Co-CEOs removed from their roles has Board heads, but the the firm agreed not to proceed with its motion when RIM said it would assemble a committee of independent directors to investigate the matter and make recommendations. Proxy advisor Glass Lewis & Co. would later accuse RIM of using stall tactics to delay the decision, but NEI appears content with the actions RIM is taking, so says its decision to give RIM six months to plead its case. Thus far, RIM’s only real argument in favor of allowing Lazaridis and Balsillie to keep their joint roles has been that their Chairmen titles help the pair generate business overseas. Shares of RIM stock have declined in value by nearly 60% over the past 12 months. More →
Despite agreeing to address concerns over the shared Co-CEO and Co-Chariman roles held by Research In Motion bosses Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, the company again finds itself in hot water after a report from proxy advisor Glass Lewis & Co. was obtained by Bloomberg on Thursday. RIM announced in June that it would assemble a committee of independent directors to study the CEO and board roles, and then make recommendations as to whether or not the company should consider splitting the CEO and Chairman roles Balsillie and Lazaridis each currently hold. In its report, Glass Lewis wrote that the move was merely a stall tactic used to get Northwest & Ethical Investments LP to withdraw a motion it intended to put forward at RIM’s July shareholder meeting. “The appointment of independent board leadership does not require further study, but rather concrete action,” Glass Lewis analysts noted in their report. “While we commend the board for actively engaging with NEI in an attempt to reach a mutually agreeable solution, we are underwhelmed with the board’s continued avoidance of a commitment to appoint an independent chairman.” More →
Research In Motion on Thursday said it would consider splitting its Chief Executive and Chairman roles ahead of its annual shareholder meeting next month. Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis currently each occupy both roles, and the pair have been the targets of much criticism from shareholders, analysts and the media since RIM’s earnings call earlier this month. The company said in a statement that it would assemble a committee of independent directors to study the CEO and board roles, and then make recommendations. The news follows an anonymous plea made by a senior RIM executive that was published exclusively by BGR earlier on Thursday. RIM responded by stating that the company is “in a solid business and financial position to tackle the opportunities ahead,” and that it “is more committed than ever to serving its loyal customers and partners around the world.” RIM’s full press release follows below. More →
Shares of RIM stock have taken a beating since the company announced devastating first-quarter earnings last Thursday. The Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry maker missed Wall Street’s first-quarter consensus, it lowered its full-year guidance, it announced workforce reductions, it confirmed product delays and investors went running for the door as did a top executive. Since the earnings release last week, RIM’s stock has fallen more than 25%. This is bad news for every RIM investor, but two in particular must be especially upset. RIM Co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie collectively own more than 10% of the company, a stake that helped each man achieve billionaire status. Last year, Lazaridis was ranked the world’s 651st richest man by Forbes with a net worth of $1.9 billion, and Balsillie was No. 692 on the list with a net worth of $1.8 billion. Fast forward to today, and neither man can call himself a billionaire any longer. The cheifs’ stake in the company is still worth more than $1 billion combined, but separately, their net worths are now just roughly $800 million a piece. We doubt the employees set to be laid off in the coming weeks and months will shed any tears for the Co-CEOs’ loss, but it’s just another piece of a puzzle that continues to fall apart. Some analysts believe RIM is hardly out for the count, however, and we agree that the company has a bit of fight left in it. If Balsillie and Lazaridis hope to rejoin the billionaire club, it’s time to put those gloves on and start swinging. More →
Reuters reported on Friday that Northern and Ethical Investments, an investor in Research In Motion, has called for a shareholder vote to decide if co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie should remain both co-chief executives and co-chairmen of the company’s board. Northern and Ethical Investments reportedly wants the Waterloo based company to have an independent board member. However, Reuters said RIM has already asked its shareholders to shoot down the vote, arguing that John Richardson is an independent member that “already acts as the de facto leader” of RIM’s board. If you’ll excuse us, we’re about to grab lunch with a co-sandwich, and co-french fries. More →
Research In Motion on Monday announced that Co-CEO Jim Balsillie will take over the role of Chief Marketing Officer following the recent departure of CMO Keith Pardy. Balsillie will remain Co-CEO alongside Mike Lazaridis as well, and both chiefs will also be co-chairmen of RIM. RIM’s former marketing chief, Keith Pardy, left the company for personal reasons back in March, just over one month ahead of RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook launch. More →
RIM's Balsillie responds to Jobs, 'customers are getting tired of being told what to think by Apple'
For those of you not following the Apple earnings-call soap opera, let us give you a brief recap. Yesterday, during the Cupertino company’s Q4 conference call, CEO Steve Jobs joined the broadcast to speak with investors — an uncommon but not unprecedented move. Jobs then began to take questions and throw verbal jabs at several industry players including Google, application maker TweetDeck, HTC, Motorola, and Research In Motion.
Google’s Andy Rubin responded to Jobs’ claim that Android’s “openness” was slang for “fragmented” with a comical tweet, as did TweetDeck founder Iain Dodsworth; Jobs insinuated that developing TweetDeck for Android was a “nightmare” due to the platform’s fragmentation. Motorola and HTC, who Jobs called out for “skinning” Android, have — up to this point — kept quiet. Who’s left? Research In Motion.
Mr. Jobs noted that Apple sold 14.1 million iPhones in its Q4 which was far more than RIM’s latest quarterly blowout of 12 million handsets. Having a flare for the dramatic, and — especially lately — not wanting to take any slack from Apple, RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie released a statement in response to Jobs’ innuendoes. Some key takeaways from Mr. Balsillie’s publishing: there are people who live both inside and outside of “Apple’s distortion field,” people care about Adobe’s Flash, and 7-inch tablets are cool. Hit the jump to see the full rant-rebuttal from RIM’s Jim Balsillie. More →
Regulators could possibly fine RIM co-CEOs up to $100 million CDN for role in decade old stock controversy
Um, wow. Just wow. Remember how Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, the co-CEOs of RIM, got in trouble all the way back in 2006 after being busted for stock options backdating? They had apparently been doing it since 1996 and it eventually led to Balsille steping down as Chairman. The Ontario Securities Commission apparently remembers the incident well, and boy does it ever seem like it’s out for blood now. A report today from Canada’s The Globe and Mail said that the OSC is seeking up to a $100 million CDN ($79.48 million USD) fine for the co-CEOs. Apparently Balsillie is the one that should be the most worried as he’s facing the bulk of the fine, but the OSC is also alleged to be pushing for him to step down from his role on the board of directors for an unspecified period of time. Lazaridis, who is of course the big brains behind the famous BlackBerry devices the company makes, would likely only have to pay a small portion of the fine. During the investigation into the matter, both Balsillie and Lazardis paid approximately $7.5 million CDN for legal costs so that RIM itself would not be financially burdened for their wrongdoings. By now you’re probably wondering, “Wow! How much did they make through backdating options?” About $2 million CDN each. [Insert crime doesn’t pay remark here]