Troubled mobile device maker BlackBerry announced today that CEO Thorsten Heins is stepping down. The news comes as BlackBerry announced that they have entered into an agreement pursuant to which Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited and other institutional investors will invest in BlackBerry through a U.S. $1 billion private placement of convertible debentures.
When the transaction closes, John S. Chen will be appointed Executive Chair of BlackBerry’s Board of Directors and, in that role, will be responsible for the strategic direction, strategic relationships and organisational goals of BlackBerry.
“In addition, Mr. Heins will step down as Chief Executive Officer at closing and Mr. Chen will serve as Interim Chief Executive Officer pending completion of a search for a new Chief Executive Officer,” the company said in a statement.
“Today’s announcement represents a significant vote of confidence in BlackBerry and its future by this group of preeminent, long-term investors,” said Barbara Stymiest, Chair of BlackBerry’s Board.
“The BlackBerry Board conducted a thorough review of strategic alternatives and pursued the course of action that it concluded is in the best interests of BlackBerry and its constituents, including its shareholders. This financing provides an immediate cash injection on terms favorable to BlackBerry, enhancing our substantial cash position. Some of the most important customers in the world rely on BlackBerry and we are implementing the changes necessary to strengthen the company and ensure we remain a strong and innovative partner for their needs.”
Chen said that he is pleased to be joining the company. “I am pleased to join a company with as much potential as BlackBerry. BlackBerry is an iconic brand with enormous potential – but it’s going to take time, discipline and tough decisions to reclaim our success. I look forward to leading BlackBerry in its turnaround and business model transformation for the benefit of all of its constituencies, including its customers, shareholders and employees.”
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor