Proxy advisor withholds support for RIM board member

Thu Jul 5, 2012 5:23pm EDT
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Investors in Research In Motion Ltd should not re-elect one-time lead director John Richardson to the board of the struggling BlackBerry maker at Tuesday's annual meeting, proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis said.

The advice repeats a long-standing Glass Lewis concern that Richardson failed to properly oversee the provision of stock options to RIM employees, which were erroneously back-dated over an eight-year period.

Senior executives paid millions of dollars to settle regulators' charges relating to the stock options, and the company restated $250 million of earnings in late 2006 and early 2007.

"We hold this director accountable for the poor oversight that eventually led to restatement," Glass Lewis said in its report, which was dated June 26, but not previously made public.

Richardson, an accountant who has headed several insurance companies and trade bodies, has been a RIM director since 2003 and was lead director from 2007 until earlier this year.

RIM was not immediately available for comment on the Glass Lewis report.

Tuesday's annual meeting in RIM's hometown of Waterloo, Ontario, gives RIM shareholders a platform to vent their frustrations with the company, which in the last year has shed almost three-quarters of its market value amid dismal earnings, product delays and service failures.

Glass Lewis also opposed Richardson's re-election last year. He received 90 percent of votes in favor, a strong majority but the smallest margin of any board member.

Glass Lewis said it had no concerns about the other nine board members RIM is proposing, including Chairwoman Barbara Stymiest, a former bank executive, and Chief Executive Thorsten Heins.   Continued...

A logo of the Blackberry maker's Research in Motion is seen on a building at the RIM Technology Park in Waterloo April 18, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Blinch