RIM given six months to prove effectiveness of co-CEO roles - Mobile World Live

RIM given six months to prove effectiveness of co-CEO roles

13 JUL 2011

RIM has been given a six month grace period by shareholders to “prove” that its unusual senior management structure can deliver, reports Bloomberg. One investor, Northwest & Ethical Investments, has previously called for the firm to split the chairman and CEO roles, which are currently jointly shared by co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis (pictured). Investors were due to vote on the issue at the company’s annual meeting yesterday, but Northwest & Ethical reportedly withdrew its proposal on the condition that RIM form a committee to study the situation. “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.

RIM said the leadership committee will study the merits of a lead director versus a chairman and the “business necessity” for the company’s co-CEOs to hold “significant” board-level titles. It claimed the board’s independent lead director, John Richardson, already fulfils the typical role of a chairman at other companies and ensures the directors’ independent oversight. RIM’s shareholders yesterday re-elected Richardson, Balsillie and Lazaridis as directors, along with the company’s five other board members.

The issue is indicative of a growing unease at some shareholders that RIM is failing to keep pace with rivals such as Apple and Android in the smartphone space. RIM’s stock dropped by an alarming 49 percent last quarter, noted Bloomberg, the worst three-month performance since 2002. “We will get better,” Lazaridis told investors. A new touchscreen BlackBerry Bold will be one of seven new phones to come out this year, and RIM will also introduce a faster, 4G version of the PlayBook tablet in September, he said.


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