Profile: New RIM CEO dashes hopes for quick turnaround

Mon Jan 23, 2012 6:09pm EST
 
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By Maria Sheahan and Nicola Leske

FRANKFURT/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Research in Motion Ltd's could have chosen a fiery, inspirational new CEO but they chose a stoic engineer instead, dashing investor hopes for a quick turnaround for the struggling BlackBerry maker.

The softspoken and bespectacled Thorsten Heins, who had worked at Germany's Siemens AG for more than 20 years before RIM, failed to inspire Wall Street on Monday as he pledged to continue on the same path as his predecessors.

RIM shares closed down 8.5 percent at $15.56 on Nasdaq as the promotion of the largely unknown former chief operating officer was a disconcerting surprise for investors who were skeptical about his ability to turn around the Canadian group's fortunes, particularly after Heins suggested RIM didn't need new a strategic overhaul in his first TV appearances.

"I am a little concerned about some of the statements that the new CEO made around not needing drastic changes, focusing on marketing and having had issues with being too innovative," Carolina Milanesi, analyst at research firm Gartner said.

For his part, Heins tried mightily to rally RIM employees, analysts and investors around the sudden executive suite change.

"We will take this to new heights," he promised after taking over from co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, who finally bowed to investor pressure and resigned. "Innovation is endless, we will have a lot of fun."

But taking a look at his past at former employer, German engineering group Siemens, Heins is not one for transformation.

The Munich-born Heins, 54, started working at Siemens straight out of university in 1984, where he also met his wife Petra, a mathematician and physicist, and where he stayed until his move to RIM in December 2007.   Continued...