BlackBerry stock falls after sales chief resigns

Thu May 24, 2012 11:32am EDT
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By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - Shares in Research In Motion Ltd fell more than 3 percent on Thursday morning after the BlackBerry maker said its global sales chief had resigned.

The resignation of Patrick Spence, a 14-year RIM veteran, comes as the Canadian company struggles to sell legacy products and prepares for the make-or-break launch of its new smartphone later this year.

London-based Spence had risen steadily through RIM's ranks and was widely credited with building strong sales growth in the Middle East and other emerging markets.

"Losing Patrick is undoubtedly a blow to RIM and he is a significant loss to the European operation," said Ben Wood, head of research at CCS Insight. "He was a well-liked and committed BlackBerry advocate who was highly regarded both inside and outside the business."

RIM did not name a replacement or say where Spence was going when it made the announcement late on Wednesday.

Spence was pivotal to the global launch of a range of BlackBerry 7 devices last year and had worked to decentralize RIM's sales planning so it fit better with regional needs.

His sudden departure was not a shock to some analysts, who said his close ties to RIM's former co-Chief Executive Jim Balsillie may have left him isolated after Balsillie quit earlier this year over a major strategy disagreement.

"Spence was a Balsillie protégé so his departure isn't a surprise altogether," said IDC analyst Kevin Restivo. "But his departure is still a punch in the stomach to RIM faithful as he helped the company rise to prominence in key markets such as the UK and the Gulf states."   Continued...