BlackBerry CEO Heins could make $55.6M if ousted in company sale

BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) CEO Thorsten Heins could make as much as $55.6 million if the company is sold and he is ousted as the chief in any ownership change.

According to a securities filing by BlackBerry cited by Bloomberg, the $55.6 million figure includes salary, incentive payments and equity awards, and is based on BlackBerry's stock price at the end of the fiscal fourth quarter, which ended March 28. Shareholders approved the plan at the company's annual meeting July 9.

Earlier this week BlackBerry's board said it is looking at "strategic alternatives," including joint ventures, strategic partnerships or alliances or a sale of the company. The company made a similar announcement in March 2012, and analysts are uncertain if any buyer will emerge for the beleaguered company.

BlackBerry declined to comment, according to Bloomberg.

If Heins is pushed out without a change of control of the company, he would receive $22 million in salary, incentive payments and equity awards, based on the March 28 share price. However, according Bloomberg, the equity awards he would get are valued very differently depending on if the company's ownership changes hands; Heins would get $16.1 million if he's simply let go and $48 million if that happens with new owners. Additionally, despite a recent uptick in the company's shares based on speculation that BlackBerry will be sold,  the company's stock remain 24 percent below the March 28 price on which the company's payout scenario was calculated. Adjusting for the difference, according to Bloomberg, Heins would be eligible for a payout of about $44 million.

All of this may be a moot point, since financial analysts do not see many buyers on the horizon for BlackBerry. Nomura analyst Stuart Jeffrey thinks the company won't see a bid of more than $12 to $13 per share, even from an "optimistic buyer," if there is one, according to AllThingsD. BlackBerry's shares were trading at $10.66 this morning. 

"We believe that an optimist might see a way to transform BlackBerry into a [Software as a Service]  company by keeping its email, calendar, contacts, and other mobile services, (and) leveraging the company's relationships with mobile operators and enterprises," Jeffrey said. "The only way that this might succeed, in our view, is if BlackBerry services can be delivered on iOS and Android devices."

Lenovo, which has been rumored in the past to be interested in BlackBerry, did not sound all that enthusiastic about a purchase, with Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing telling the Wall Street Journal this week that the company thinks it can bank on organic growth in its smartphone business to carry it forward "at least for a couple of quarters."

"I believe that we can still grow fast organically," Yang said. "But if we see an opportunity for an acquisition that is consistent with our strategy, we would like to consider it."

Yang declined to comment on any specific deals. "We believe that the PC industry and the mobile phone industry will continue to consolidate," he said. "So Lenovo is definitely in a good position to become an important player. If a target or deal is consistent with Lenovo's strategy, we would take the opportunity."

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this AllThingsD article

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