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RIM's top bosses slash salaries to $1 a year

Shake-up promised at floundering BlackBerry biz

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Troubled BlackBerry maker RIM appears to have been listening to its irate shareholders - promising a "comprehensive review" of the company while top shareholders and CEO-cum-chairmen Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis cut their wages to a dollar a year.

"To demonstrate our passion, alignment and commitment to RIM's long-term success, both Mike and I have asked the compensation committee to make a change to our cash compensation such that our salaries will be reduced to $1 a year, effective immediately," Balsillie said in a conference call discussing RIM's quarterly results.

Research in Motion's shares have taken a nosedive as problems mount up, including a massive cash charge of $485 million on unsold PlayBooks, loss of customer confidence over a three-day outage and continued delays to its new operating system.

Stocks on the NASDAQ have more than halved from $32.49 at the end of August to $15.13 at the close of trading yesterday.

Before the quarterly results, shareholder Jaguar Financial called for "a dramatic shift in governance at RIM" as well as a sale of some or all of the firm.

"Jaguar again calls for the separation of the chairman and CEO roles at RIM and points out that a process to carry out this separation was in place in 2007 and was never completed," the investor said.

Balsillie and Lazaridis share the roles of chief exec and chairman, as well as being the largest shareholders in the Canada-based biz.

In the conference call, Balsillie promised that he and Lazaridis were looking into "what is the best organisational structure for the company" along with a "comprehensive review of all aspects of the business".

"We are leaving no stone unturned," he promised. However, he added that the company's "transformation may take some time".

There's patents in them hills

Balsillie said that the two chiefs were seeking "partnership and licensing opportunities", which may or may not be a veiled hint that RIM would consider doing something with its patents.

Many analysts have suggested that the greatest value left in RIM is its bank of patents, which any of the other big players in the smartphone sector would be willing to fork over oodles of cash for. Jaguar had said that it believed "RIM had lost the ability to compete in the consumer hardware business", and it should sell off its mobile unit and "monetize its patent portfolio".

Along with their promises of transformation, RIM's top dogs also had more bad news to report.

Smartphones running the shiny new OS, now called BlackBerry 10 after a lawsuit forced the firm to give up on the BBX moniker, won't be seen in public until the second half of 2012, a further delay.

RIM also only expects to ship 11 to 12 million handsets in the next quarter. In the quarter to November, it shipped 14.1 million.

For the nine months to November 26, RIM reported an income before tax of $1.6bn, down sharply from the same period in 2010 when it pocketed $3.4bn. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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