RIM bows to shareholder pressure, agrees to evaluate roles of CEOs Lazaridis and Balsillie

New committee to examine executive set-up

RIM bows to shareholder pressure, agrees to evaluate roles of CEOs Lazaridis and Balsillie
A matter of hours after an unnamed senior RIM executive called for co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie to step down and take on more defined roles within the company, the firm has agreed to evaluate its current management structure.

The concession has been made not in response to said letter, however, but rather as a result of a request by NEI Investments.

Investor insight

The body, which is an investor in RIM, was to table a shareholder proposal at the company's AGM demanding a separation of the CEO and chairman roles – both of which are held by Lazaridis and Balsillie.

To nullify the motion, RIM has agreed to set up a committee designed to "study the appropriate balance between an independent lead director or chair with full and exclusive authority customarily held by such an office holder".

Many believe RIM's failure to respond quickly to the growing threat of iOS and Android from 2007 onwards was, in part, due to the fact that both major levers of power at the company are held by Lazaridis and Balsillie.

It's an issue said executive brought up in his letter, claiming RIM "missed not boldly reacting to the threat of iPhone when we saw it in January over four years ago".

Slow to react

"We laughed and said they are trying to put a computer on a phone, that it won't work," he or she added.

"We should have made the QNX-like transition then. We are now 3-4 years too late. That is the painful truth…it was a major strategic oversight and we know who is responsible."

While it remains to be seen whether either Lazaridis and Balsillie would consider stepping down, the committee does have a mandate to "determine the business necessity for RIM's Co-CEOS to have significant board level titles to assist their selling and other responsibilities with certain large customers in overseas markets".

Finally, the committee will also set out to provide a rationale for a recommended governance structure for the company moving forward, including clarification of the co-CEO and chair roles, as well as the remit of RIM's board.

Recommendations are expected to be issued on January 31, 2012.

[source: RIM]

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.