RIM to Review Ownership Structure

by Jordan Richardson on July 4, 2011

It’s no secret that Waterloo’s Research In Motion has been in considerable trouble as of late. Everything from the less-than-stellar Playbook launch to the management structure has been scrutinized soundly by analysts from around the world. Falling share prices and product delays sure haven’t helped.

In an effort to appease at least some of its shareholders, RIM is responding to criticism about its management structure.

As we know, Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis were named co-chairmen of the company last year. This wasn’t greeted with resounding applause, mind you, as several key investors voiced their disapproval over the move. It was thought that an independent chairman was necessary. The move even prompted Northwest and Ethical Investments LP to put forward a proposal to split the roles of CEO and chairman. That proposal was to be voted on at the July 12 annual meeting.

So in response to that proposal, RIM decided to pay some attention. The plan for now is to put a team of independent directors on the issue to study it and, best of all, come up with a governance structure that’ll work for the shareholders and Balsillie and Lazaridis.

Northwest and Ethical Investments has agreed to drop the proposal because of RIM’s exploratory desires, so that gets them off the hook – for now. RIM has put a timeframe on the study, too, and claims that the committee of directors will recommend a new structure plan by January of 2012.

“RIM and NEI Investments are pleased to have reached an agreement on this matter, and these important issues of corporate governance will receive further consideration at the RIM board level,” the two sides said in a joint statement.

So will the institution of a new governance structure help the company gain some ground in critical times? It’s hard to say. The company has been facing a barrage of negative criticism from all sides, with a letter from a “high level employee” making the rounds at Boy Genius Report chastising management and claiming that projects were falling behind.

Where RIM once dominated the enterprise fields, Apple and Android are creeping in and taking over. Clumsy product launches, delays and trouble on the market aren’t helping, either, and the once-superior giant is clearly stumbling where it once stood tall.

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Written by: Jordan Richardson. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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