RIM’s Changes Don’t Go Far Enough, Jaguar Financial Says

The BlackBerry Bold 9700 mobile device sits on display during the BlackBerry WES 2010 Conference in Orlando, Florida. Photographer: Matt Stroshane/Bloomberg

Jan. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Research In Motion Ltd.’s management changes don’t go far enough in ensuring a turnaround, said Vic Alboini, a RIM shareholder who has been pushing for a sale of the BlackBerry maker.

RIM’s former co-chief executive officers, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, must leave the board, said Alboini, who led a shareholders’ campaign to oust the two executives from their former positions. Board members John Richardson and Roger L. Martin should also leave, Alboini said in a telephone interview today from Toronto. Thorsten Heins, the new CEO, said today he sees no need for radical changes.

“The new CEO wants to stay the course,” Alboini said. “That’s not what the market wants to hear. The market wants to hear change and a strategic review.”

Alboini, CEO of Toronto-based Jaguar Financial Corp., began a push to persuade RIM to sell all or parts of its business in September as the company’s share price was in the midst of its 75 percent plunge last year. Lazaridis and Balsillie agreed to step down as co-chairmen and co-CEOs yesterday. Both remain on the board, and Lazaridis was named vice chairman and chairman of the board’s Innovation Committee.

Jaguar, which describes itself as a merchant bank that invests in undervalued small-cap companies, is willing to give Heins some time to make changes, he said. If unsatisfied, Jaguar may nominate a rival slate of directors to force out board members it dislikes, he said.


Alboini said 16 shareholders who own almost 10 percent of RIM’s shares support his campaign.

RIM fell 6.9 percent to C$16.05 as of 9:59 a.m. Toronto time after Heins said he doesn’t think “drastic change” is needed.

Alboini said former TMX Group Inc. CEO Barbara Stymiest was the wrong choice to succeed Lazaridis and Balsillie as chairman.

“She’s been part of the problem,” he said. “I don’t think she’s going to be strong enough to make the changes necessary. We would say to her, ‘Prove us wrong.’”

RIM should appoint a “tech heavyweight from the U.S. and a consumer-marketing star from Southeast Asia” to the board, Alboini said. Jaguar has candidates in mind. It won’t make them public yet, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Matt Walcoff in Toronto at mwalcoff1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Baker at nbaker7@bloomberg.net