By Euan Rocha
TORONTO Nov 25 BlackBerry Ltd said on
Monday that three top executives, including its chief financial
officer, are stepping down as recently appointed Chief Executive
John Chen embarks on his promised shakeup at the struggling
Chen, brought in as interim CEO earlier this month after the
company dropped a plan to sell itself, said BlackBerry is
setting its marketing sights on corporations, governments and
the big clients that were at the root of its early success.
BlackBerry named James Yersh to replace Brian Bidulka as
CFO. Yersh has worked with BlackBerry since 2008, serving as its
senior vice president, controller and head of compliance.
Bidulka will stay on through March 1 as special adviser to Chen.
Chief Operating Officer Kristian Tear and Chief Marketing
Officer Frank Boulben are also leaving. Tear played a key role
in BlackBerry's latest restructuring, while Boulben was
instrumental in the company changing its branding and name to
BlackBerry from Research In Motion.
Reinforcing the focus on high-profit business customers that
BlackBerry outlined in September, Chen said he aims to make the
company a top provider for companies and governments of mobile
devices and device-management tools.
"New interim CEO Chen is not behaving like an interim CEO,
in our view, and is dramatically altering the company,"
Jefferies analyst Peter Misek wrote in a research note,
expressing surprise at how hands-on Chen has been.
BlackBerry named Chen, a turnaround artist with software
maker Sybase in the late 1990s, as its interim CEO earlier this
month as it unexpectedly shelved efforts to sell itself. It
opted instead to raise $1 billion in a convertible notes
offering led by Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd, its
BlackBerry did not name replacements for the other two
executives exiting the company, but signaled more changes could
be coming. It said Roger Martin, a board member since 2007, has
BlackBerry, once a market leader in on-the-go email, has
suffered a drastic loss of market share to Apple Inc's
iPhone and devices that are powered by Google Inc's
Android software. Its new line of devices has so far failed to
win back customers.
Chen told Reuters earlier this month that he would change
management, both hiring from outside the company and promoting
BlackBerry has laid off thousands of workers over the last
two years and reported a loss of nearly $1 billion in the
quarter to Aug. 31. In September it said it would shed more than
a third of its global workforce to lower expenses, rekindling
fears of the company's demise and sending its shares into a
Revenues slumped 45 percent from a year earlier to $1.6
BlackBerry shares, which peaked at around $148 in 2008,
touched a 10-year year low of $5.98 on the Nasdaq last week. The
Nasdaq shares closed up little changed at $6.25 on Monday, while
its Toronto-listed stock was up 1.4 percent at C$6.60.
"John Chen is putting his team and strategy in place, which,
unsurprisingly, is largely enterprise-focused," said Wells Fargo
analyst Maynard Um.
BlackBerry's next quarterly results are due on Dec. 20, and
analysts expect the company to report another large loss, given
the uncertainty caused by its recent sale process.
"We are increasingly concerned that recent headlines have
created customer angst," Um said. "Though we are believers that
the company can exist as a smaller entity, it may require
further declines in its installed base as well as further