BlackBerry replacing CFO; two other top execs leaving

Mon Nov 25, 2013 12:05pm EST
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By Euan Rocha

TORONTO (Reuters) - BlackBerry Ltd said on Monday that three top executives, including its chief financial officer, are stepping down as part of a widely expected shake-up after it named an interim chief executive and shelved plans to sell itself.

James Yersh is replacing Brian Bidulka as CFO, although Bidulka will stay on as an adviser through the end of the fiscal year.

The troubled smartphone maker, based in Waterloo, Ontario, said Kristian Tear, its chief operating officer, and Frank Boulben, its chief marketing officer, will leave. The company did not name replacements for either executive, but indicated more management changes could be coming.

BlackBerry also said Roger Martin, a board member since 2007, has resigned.

BlackBerry, once a market leader in the field of on-the-go email, has lost market share to Apple Inc's iPhone and devices that are powered by Google Inc's Android software. Its new line of devices powered by the BlackBerry 10 operating system have so far failed to win back customers.

BlackBerry shelved plans to sell itself in early November and opted instead to raise $1 billion via a convertible notes offering led by Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd, its largest shareholder. As part of the deal, it named John Chen as interim CEO, replacing Thorsten Heins.

"New interim CEO Chen is not behaving like an interim CEO, in our view, and is dramatically altering the company," Jefferies analyst Peter Misek wrote in a note to clients. The changes were a clear signal that BlackBerry is shifting its focus from the consumer market to enterprise customers, he added.

Chen, who helped turn around software maker Sybase in the late 1990s, told Reuters earlier this month that he would change management, both hiring from outside the company and promoting from within.   Continued...

John Chen, Chairman and CEO of Sybase Inc., speaks at the Reuters Global Technology Summit in New York in this file photo from May 18, 2009. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/Files