Research In Motion Ltd., maker of the BlackBerry smartphone, surged the most in two weeks after a report said the company may name an independent chairperson to appease investors wanting to see a leadership change.
Former Royal Bank of Canada Chief Operating Officer Barbara Stymiest, a RIM director, may be the leading candidate for the job, the National Post reported today, citing unidentified sources familiar with the situation.
A committee made up of independent directors is reviewing the company’s current leadership structure. The committee said in June it will issue a report by Jan. 31.
RIM is facing demands from investors led by Northwest & Ethical Investments LP to name an independent chairman, a role currently shared by co-Chief Executive Officers Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, to inject some fresh thinking. RIM is losing market shares as recent BlackBerry models failed to stem customer defections to Apple Inc.’s iPhone and devices built on Google Inc.’s Android platform.
RIM, based in Waterloo, Ontario, rose 8.3 percent to $15.70 at 11:50 a.m. in New York after increasing as much as 9.4 percent for the biggest intraday gain since Dec. 21. The stock dropped 75 percent last year.
The company’s share of mobile-phone subscribers in the U.S, where sales declines have been steepest, dropped to 6.5 percent in the three months through November, from 7.1 percent in the previous quarter, according to research firm ComScore Inc.
Northwest & Ethical, which was promised a role in studying leadership changes in exchange for withdrawing a proposal to split the chairman and CEO roles in June, had yet to have any substantial discussions about the review as of late November, Robert Walker, Northwest’s vice-president of ethical funds, said in an interview at the time.
If a report isn’t done by Jan. 31, Northwest will again push for an investor vote on splitting the roles, he said then.
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