RIM sales chief hired by audio company Sonos: sources

TORONTO Thu May 24, 2012 6:52pm EDT

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TORONTO (Reuters) - Patrick Spence, who resigned this week as global head of sales at struggling BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd, has been hired as chief commercial officer at wireless home audio company Sonos Inc, several sources with knowledge of his plans said.

Sonos is a privately held consumer electronics company based in Santa Barbara, California, with offices also in France, Germany, the Netherlands, China and Malaysia.

Sonos was not immediately available to comment. RIM declined to comment beyond a statement issued on Wednesday that said Spence was taking on a leadership role in another industry.

RIM's Nasdaq-listed shares, already languishing at lows last seen in late 2003, closed 3.4 percent lower on Thursday at $10.71.

Spence was considered a rising star at RIM whose promotion to the global sales position last July recognized his major role in building strong sales growth in Europe and emerging markets such as the Middle East.

He was pivotal to the global launch of a range of BlackBerry 7 devices last year and worked to decentralize RIM's sales planning so it fit better with regional needs.

But analysts suggest his close ties to former RIM co-Chief Executive Jim Balsillie may have left him isolated after Balsillie quit earlier this year over a major strategy disagreement.

He was passed over for a vacant chief operating officer role at RIM this month, which one source said also pushed him to look for opportunities outside RIM.

(Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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