UPDATE 3-BlackBerry replaces CFO, others exit, in executive shakeup

Mon Nov 25, 2013 5:00pm EST
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By Euan Rocha

TORONTO Nov 25 (Reuters) - BlackBerry Ltd said on Monday that three top executives, including its chief financial officer, are stepping down as recently appointed Chief Executive John Chen embarks on his promised shakeup at the struggling smartphone maker.

Chen, brought in as interim CEO earlier this month after the company dropped a plan to sell itself, said BlackBerry is setting its marketing sights on corporations, governments and the big clients that were at the root of its early success.

BlackBerry named James Yersh to replace Brian Bidulka as CFO. Yersh has worked with BlackBerry since 2008, serving as its senior vice president, controller and head of compliance. Bidulka will stay on through March 1 as special adviser to Chen.

Chief Operating Officer Kristian Tear and Chief Marketing Officer Frank Boulben are also leaving. Tear played a key role in BlackBerry's latest restructuring, while Boulben was instrumental in the company changing its branding and name to BlackBerry from Research In Motion.

Reinforcing the focus on high-profit business customers that BlackBerry outlined in September, Chen said he aims to make the company a top provider for companies and governments of mobile devices and device-management tools.

"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 research note, expressing surprise at how hands-on Chen has been.

BlackBerry named Chen, a turnaround artist with software maker Sybase in the late 1990s, as its interim CEO earlier this month as it unexpectedly shelved efforts to sell itself. It opted instead to raise $1 billion in a convertible notes offering led by Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd, its largest shareholder.   Continued...