Jaguar says support grows for a RIM shake-up

Tue Oct 11, 2011 7:24pm EDT
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By Pav Jordan

TORONTO (Reuters) - A growing mass of Research In Motion investors backs calls for a sale or break-up of the company that makes the BlackBerry smartphone and wants a new, "transformational leader" at its helm, according to a shareholder leading the drive for change.

Jaguar Financial Corp said on Tuesday holders of at least 8 percent of the stock are behind its campaign for a shake-up, and that percentage could keep rising as it talks with more institutional shareholders about forcing a dialogue with the struggling Canadian company.

Shares of RIM rose more than 4 percent after Jaguar's declaration of support. The stock has been battered this year as the company steadily loses market share to devices made by Apple or powered by Google's Android software, raising questions about its direction and leadership.

"Everybody is in support of a sale of RIM or another value creative transaction ... like splitting the company into separate public companies - a network company, a device company and a patents company," Jaguar Chief Executive Vic Alboini told Reuters on Tuesday.

Jaguar, a Canadian merchant bank that targets underperforming companies, wants RIM to hire a new chief executive to replace current co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, and to put itself up for sale, either as a whole or in parts.

With 8 percent support Jaguar could demand a shareholders meeting, Alboini said, ratcheting up the pressure on RIM's board and management to address its demands. Alboini has a history of picking public fights with the boards of companies far larger than his own.

RIM said at its annual meeting in July that holders of more than 90 percent of its voting shares had backed the re-election of a slate of directors that includes the co-CEOs, who are also the two largest shareholders in the company.

RIM could not be reached for immediate comment on Tuesday.   Continued...