by Al Sacco

RIM Has Six Months to Justify Joint CEO/Chairman Roles

Jul 13, 20113 mins
MobileSmall and Medium BusinessSmartphones

RIM reportedly has until the end of January, 2012, to convince a handful of concerned shareholders that its current co-CEOs need to retain their co-chairmen titles for the better of the Canadian company, or face another investor-proposal that calls for a division of the leadership roles.

Earlier this month, I posted about BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion’s (RIM) recent decision to form an independent committee that will examine its current leadership structure and determine whether or not the company’s two co-CEOs, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, need to retain their co-chairman positions in order to run the business as efficiently and effectively as possible. (Read more background here.)


The decision was motivated by current shareholder pressure to examine RIM’s leadership structure, following recent struggles that have translated into RIM subscriber losses and a stock-price plunge.

The latest development has RIM facing a six-month deadline for which it must justify its decision to keep both Lazaridis and Balsillie as co-chairmen, or once again face the investor proposal to divide the CEO/Chairman roles, according to Bloomberg. The original proposal that called for a division of roles was filed on the behalf of RIM investors Northwest & Ethical Investments (NEI Investments), but the party quickly withdrew it after RIM said it would form a committee to examine its leadership structure.

Now NEI says RIM should be able to present its case by the end of January, 2012, Bloomberg reports, which would give the group enough time to prepare another proposal before the 2012 annual meeting.

RIM is expected to release at least seven new BlackBerry handhelds within the coming months, so this timeframe is noteworthy because the company could slow or stop its recent downward spiral with a successful product launch or two. And if RIM is able to wow customers—and investors–with a couple of these new devices, two of which should be the much anticipated BlackBerry Bold 9900 smartphone and the first 4G, cellular PlayBook tablet, it may find itself in a less hostile position with the shareholders who are seeking some kind of shakeup.

“We will get better,” Lazaridis reportedly told attendees of its annual general meeting, held yesterday.

It’s likely that RIM will continue to face shareholder pressure to divide the CEO/Chairman roles, and perhaps to select only one chief executive, even if it is able to satisfy NEI, since NEI probably isn’t the only shareholder with similar concerns, but only time will tell.

In related news, RIM also announced that its BlackBerry App World software store is currently seeing about 3 million downloads a day. And App World recently reached 1 billion total downloads. (That counts both BlackBerry-smartphone and BlackBerry-PlayBook apps.) For more related BlackBerry statistics, read my BlackBerry by the Numbers post from RIM’s 2011 BlackBerry World conference.

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