Thorsten Heins

The Board of Directors of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) today announced that, acting on the recommendation of its Co-Chief Executive Officers to implement the succession plan they previously submitted to the Board, it has unanimously named Thorsten Heins as President and Chief Executive Officer.  Heins was also appointed to RIM’s Board.

Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis are stepping down as executives and co-chairmen of the RIM board, in what has been described as the company’s biggest executive shakeup ever.

Mike Lazaridis, former Co-Chair and Co-CEO, has become Vice Chair of RIM’s Board and Chair of the Board’s new Innovation Committee. As Vice Chair, he will work closely with Heins to offer strategic counsel, provide a smooth transition and continue to promote the BlackBerry brand worldwide.  Former co-chair Jim Balsillie remains a member of the Board.

Heins said he looks forward to continuing to work with Lazaridis, globally recognized as a technology pioneer. He said, “Mike created a whole new way of communicating and I look forward to continuing our close collaboration.”

Lazaridis said, “There comes a time in the growth of every successful company when the founders recognize the need to pass the baton to new leadership. Jim and I went to the Board and told them that we thought that time was now.  With BlackBerry 7 now out, PlayBook 2.0 shipping in February and BlackBerry 10 expected to ship later this year, the company is entering a new phase, and we felt it was time for a new leader to take it through that phase and beyond. Jim, the Board and I all agreed that leader should be Thorsten Heins.”

Lazaridis said that he decided to move from Co-Chair to Vice Chair of the Board in order to return the public’s focus to what is most important: “the great company we have built, its iconic products, global brand and its talented employees.”   
 
Lazaridis added: “Thorsten has demonstrated throughout his tenure at RIM that he has the right mix of leadership, relevant industry experience and skills to take the company forward.  We have been impressed with his operational skills at both RIM and Siemens.  I am so confident in RIM’s future that I intend to purchase an additional USD50 million of the company’s shares, as permitted, in the open market.”

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