BlackBerry inked a five-year contract extension with CEO John Chen (pictured), keeping the executive on board until November 2023.

While the executive’s basic salary and short-term incentives remain unchanged, Chen was awarded equity comprising a total of 10 million restricted share units which Bloomberg reported were worth $128 million based on their price at the close of markets on 14 March, the day before the extension was announced.

In a statement, BlackBerry explained 5 million of the share units “will vest annually over five years in equal tranches” from 3 November 2019. Payment of the remainder will be based on the company’s share price hitting a level of between $16 and $20. A related cash payment will become due if the share price hits $30.

For all of the performance-related awards to come into play, BlackBerry’s market capitalisation must reach approximately $16.1 billion “representing an increase of about 134 per cent” above its capitalisation at the close of business on 14 March, the company stated.

Chen joined the company in 2013 and steered it through a transformation which saw it exit a failing handset manufacturing business in favour of a new focus on cybersecurity and embedded software.

When Chen started at the company, 40 per cent of revenue was generated by hardware, with just 7 per cent coming from software. By the end of the company’s fiscal Q3 2018 (the three months to end-November 2017) the mix had shifted to include around 45 per cent of revenue from enterprise software and services, 21 per cent from licensing and just 3.8 per cent from handheld devices.

Prem Watsa, chair of the BlackBerry board’s compensation committee, said Chen’s leadership is “critical” to the company.

“John engineered a successful turnaround and has the company repositioned to apply its strengths and assets to the Enterprise of Things, an emerging category with massive potential.”