RIM's Lazaridis backs new CEO Heins, buys $50M in company stock

Former Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) co-CEO Mike Lazaridis said that he and former co-CEO Jim Balsillie had been planning to step down for several years, and he expressed confidence in the BlackBerry maker's new CEO, Thorsten Heins. To back up his confidence in the company's future and turnaround prospects, Lazaridis said he recently purchased $50 million worth of additional RIM stock.

Former Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) co-CEO Mike Lazaridis


In his first extensive interview since stepping down earlier this month, Lazaridis told The Record, a local Canadian newspaper, that he is confident RIM can reclaim its competitive edge via its new BlackBerry 10 products, due out late this year. "Would I be buying $50 million worth of shares if I didn't?" he asked.

Lazaridis, who stepped down with Balsillie amid shareholder pressure for changes in the company's leadership, also defended the decision to hire Heins as the company's new CEO. Heins, who has been with RIM since 2007, was previously a COO at the company. "Bringing someone in from the outside would have been a guess," Lazaridis said. "That would have been like going back four years and saying, 'Well, we think he is a star but now he has to prove himself.' He has proven himself."

Meanwhile, Heins is continuing his own media tour to promote his own vision for RIM. In a series of interviews, Heins made it clear that RIM will work aggressively with U.S. carriers to promote its BlackBerry 7 devices, which were introduced last August. "We have to do something dramatically different in the U.S. to get our market share back," Heins told Bloomberg. "I'm here to fight. I'm here to win." Heins told Reuters he will present his "significant" new ideas to RIM's board within the next few weeks, but did not divulge many new details.

He noted to the Wall Street Journal that the vast majority of U.S. BlackBerry users--80 to 90 percent--are still using older devices without the software and hardware improvements RIM has made to the platform. He said the company's plan to promote BlackBerry 7 devices in advance of BlackBerry 10 may involve bundling different devices together or offering carriers BlackBerry smartphones with packages of pre-loaded applications, according to Reuters. "All the plans are ready," he said. "The carrier agreements are all ready. Now we have to get off the starting grid. Now we need to execute that upgrade program."

For more:
- see this The Record article
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Reuters article
- see this Bloomberg article

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