UPDATE 2-RIM says India head leaves, names interim chief

Thu Nov 3, 2011 3:36pm EDT

* Urpo Karjalainen named interim India head

* More than 1 million people use BlackBerry in India

* RIM also confirms earlier exit of Robert Crow

NEW DELHI, Nov 3 (Reuters) - Research In Motion's Indian unit said on Thursday its managing director, Frenny Bawa, had left the company to pursue other interests and the BlackBerry maker has appointed an interim replacement.

Urpo Karjalainen, senior vice-president for Greater China, India and Australia and New Zealand, will oversee business operations for India until RIM names a permanent replacement for Bawa, the company said in a statement.

RIM has parted ways with a string of high-profile employees in recent months, including chief marketing officer Keith Pardy, head of developer relations Tyler Lessard, and Jim Tobin, senior vice-president for software and business services, who reported directly to co-CEO Jim Balsillie.

A RIM spokeswoman also confirmed media reports that Robert Crow, the company's head of government relations, had left several months ago after ten years of service in which he helped in rapid global expansion.

Crow used to travel frequently to India and was a leading figure in often tense discussions with Indian officials over security issues.

RIM has not publicly named a replacement for Crow, but hired David Paterson, formerly of Manulife Financial , to a similar position a year ago, and in January added Mark Cameron, a former aide to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

RIM has been buffeted by demands from governments including India, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for access to encrypted BlackBerry communications.

Earlier this year, RIM gave India access to its consumer services, including its Messenger services but said it could not allow monitoring of its enterprise email.

Last month, a four-day service outage cast a shadow over BlackBerry's reputation in India, one of the smartphone maker's few growing markets, where the frustration of hundreds of thousands of users could mean a chance for its rivals to gain ground.

More than a million people use BlackBerry in India, the world's second-biggest mobile phone market. RIM has established a strong, though not dominant, foothold in the price-sensitive market thanks largely to its low-priced models.

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