RIM founders to lose chairmanship

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion is set to axe its co-founders as chairmen in a bid to revive its fortunes.

RIM founders to lose chairmanship

According to a report in a Canadian paper that cites sources close to the company, the RIM board is planning to oust Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie after poor results on both smartphones and its PlayBook tablet.

Facing demands for action from a section of agitated shareholders, the National Post said the board was expected to elevate Barbara Stymiest, an independent director who joined RIM’s board in 2007, to the chairmanship.

The founders may continue in their roles as joint CEOs.

The news comes in the wake of disappointing sales of BlackBerry handsets in key markets and days after the company was forced to slash prices on its PlayBook tablet to clear inventory.

The Post said a committee of seven independent directors of RIM’s board, including Stymiest, had been studying the company’s board structure, focusing on whether there the company needed an independent chair rather than a lead director, and the “business necessity” of Lazaridis and Balsillie.

Investors at least saw the potential decision as beneficial, with shares rising 7% in response and analysts predicting the change would help the company’s fortunes.

However, not everyone believes Stymiest will be able to achieve the radical overhaul shareholders have called for. “She’s being thrust into the limelight to appease shareholders. It doesn’t really do much for me personally,” Matthew Thornton, an analyst at Avian Securities in Boston, told the Reuters news agency. “This one action doesn’t solve anything, in my mind.”

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