Research in Motion announced Sunday that it has appointed a new chief executive and president of the board, replacing Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis as co-chief executives and co-chairmen.
The company’s board of directors announced the change Sunday night, saying that the decision was made “acting on the recommendation” of a succession plan put together by Balsillie and Lazaridis, who have tried to breathe new life into the struggling company. Lazaridis will become the vice chairman of RIM’s board and chairman of a new “innovation committee.” Balsillie will remain as a member of the board.
Lazaridis said in a company statement that the decision for the change is intended to put focus on the company, its products and its brand — a reference to the mounting criticism over the co-chief executives’ handling of the BlackBerry PlayBook launch, BBM outage and the company’s falling market share.
Thorsten Heins, the new chief executive, was one of the company’s chief operating officers. Analysts said Sunday that RIM’s decision not to appoint a well-known executive from outside the company with a reputation for turning companies around might have been a mistake.
Kevin Smithen of Macquarie Capital said in a note to investors that he found the announcement “disappointing” and said that the Heins will have to overcome “considerable brand erosion” in the wake of product delays and network outages. Smithen has a neutral rating on RIM.
In a morning conference call, Heins said he would not sell or spin off the company bur that he would consider licensing the BlackBerry operating system to other phone manufacturers, if approached. Research in Motion shares were down about 6.8 percent in early afternoon trading, to $15.85.
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