CEO vows to turn RIM into


Research In Motion Ltd’s (RIM.TO)(RIMM.O) new CEO vowed on Tuesday to turn around the embattled company with a successful launch of its next-generation BlackBerrys next year, telling shareholders he would transform RIM into a “lean, mean, hunting machine.”

Thorsten Heins — who was presiding over his first annual meeting since being named chief executive in January — is facing a formidable battle to put the embattled BlackBerry maker back on track.

(RIM marketing boss sees silver lining in BlackBerry delay. Read story here here)

Its share price has plunged nearly 80 percent while the BlackBerry’s market share has evaporated as consumers increasingly embrace Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) iPhone and devices based on Google Inc’s (GOOG.O) Android system.

At the annual meeting, Heins outlined the company’s strategy ahead of next year’s introduction of its new line of devices, the BlackBerry 10.

Sounding contrite, he acknowledged shareholders’ discontent with the company’s performance, and their frustration with the delay in the launch of the new phones until after the holiday shopping season.

“I am not satisfied with the performance of the company over the past year,” Heins said. “Many of you are frustrated with the time it has taken us to make our way through the transition.”

RIM last month posted its first operating loss in eight years and said it was cutting 5,000 jobs, almost a third of its workforce, as it struggles to regain its footing as an industry innovator.

At the same time, Heins expressed confidence that the company, under its new management, was heading in the right direction.

“I have assembled a leadership team for RIM that’s truly capable of taking us into future,” the German-born Heins told shareholders.

He said a strategic review the company is undergoing is focused on turning around the BlackBerry maker with a streamlined product portfolio focused on its strengths.

Heins acknowledged that RIM will likely suffer lower average selling prices and declining service revenue this year as it pushes to sell legacy BlackBerry 7 devices that have struggled to compete with flashier iPhones from Apple and Android devices using Google’s software.

Despite the company’s recent performance, the company’s slate of directors was elected with token opposition, though preliminary results showed a number of votes were withheld, including 19 percent for former co-CEO Mike Lazaridis.

John Richardson had 30 percent of votes withheld, following the recommendation of proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis. It said Richardson, as lead director, had failed to properly oversee the provision of stock options to RIM employees, which were erroneously back-dated over an eight-year period.


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