BlackBerry maker's ex-CEOs get $12M going away gift

Posted at 06/15/2012 2:01 PM | Updated as of 06/15/2012 2:01 PM

SAN FRANCISCO - BlackBerry maker Research In Motion is giving its freshly departed co-chiefs $12 million worth of parting gifts, according to paperwork filed Thursday with US regulators.

RIM co-chiefs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie resigned in January following months of investor pressure for a change at the helm of the struggling BlackBerry maker.

Chief operating officer Thorsten Heins was named president and CEO of the Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM, which has been steadily losing market share to Apple's iPhone and handsets powered by Google's Android software.

"Messrs Lazaridis and Balsillie revolutionized the worldwide wireless industry with the introduction of the BlackBerry and forever changed how the world communicates," the Canadian firm said in a documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

With the two men sharing the helm, RIM "successfully navigated many challenges" and became a global company with sales in over 175 countries and more than 17,000 employees worldwide, according to the filing.

Lazaridis, who is vice chair of the RIM board of directors, will receive a severance bonus worth approximately Can$3.96 million (about the same amount in US dollars).

He will have an office and a personal assistant for a period of two years; family health care coverage for a decade and more than Can$3 million in equity incentives.

Lazaridis will also get use of a company car and chauffeur for two years, according to SEC paperwork.

Balsillie, who is gone from the company, will get a similarly valuable benefits package plus Can$4.8 million.

RIM, which pioneered the smartphone, risks falling further behind the competition in the market now being dominated by Apple's iPhone and Android platform makers like Samsung of South Korea.

The company has warned that it could report a loss in the current quarter and said it had hired investment firms to study strategic options.

A survey by research firm IDC showed smartphones powered by Google's Android software accounted for 59 percent of the global market in the first quarter of 2012, with 23 percent for Apple's iPhones.

That left just 6.4 percent for BlackBerry, compared with 13.6 percent a year ago.

RIM stock was trading at $10.40 a share on the Nasdaq exchange at the close of market on Thursday.

© 1994-2012 Agence France-Presse