Report: RIM prepares to name new chairman amid investor pressure

Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) is close to naming a new chairman of its board, according to a Financial Post report, indicating that investor pressure will likely push co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis out of their spots as co-chairmen. 

barbara stymiest rim blackberry chairwoman


The report, which cited unnamed sources, said that Barbara Stymiest, an independent director who joined RIM's board in 2007, is likely the leading candidate for the chairman's post. Stymiest is part of a committee of seven independent directors looking at RIM's board structure. Investor pressure has been building for months to change the structure, and likely only increased after RIM said last month that it would delay the launch of its next-generation BlackBerry 10 smartphones until the latter part of this year.

"As previously disclosed, RIM's Board has established a committee of independent directors with the mandate to study the company's governance structure and report their findings by January 31, 2012," RIM said in response to questions on the topic. "The committee is on track to meet this schedule and the board will then publicly respond to the recommendations of the committee within 30 days."

In other RIM news, the company sliced the price of its PlayBook tablet down to $299 in a bid to drum up sales for the gadget, which has so far failed to win over many customers.

RIM said the sale pricing will be in place until Feb. 4. The 16 GB, Wi-Fi-enabled PlayBook debuted last year for $499 and the 32 GB and 64 GB models were released for $599 and $699 respectively. The sale is not surprising, especially considering that retailers have been quietly cutting the price of the PlayBook for the last several months.

Additionally, in December, when RIM said it would book a pretax charge of $485 million for its fiscal third quarter related to weaker-than-expected sales of the PlayBook, the company said that additional promotional activity is needed "to drive sell-through to end customers."

On the company's earnings conference call, Lazaridis said the firm remains committed to the PlayBook and the tablet market. The QNX-based software running the PlayBook is also expected to power RIM's BlackBerry 10 smartphones. In the fiscal third quarter RIM shipped 150,000 PlayBooks, down from 200,000 in the second quarter and 500,000 in the first quarter.

RIM will deliver a software update for the tablet in February that is expected to improve the device's performance, fix bugs and also include support for a native email client

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

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