BlackBerry, the Canadian smartphone maker and services company, received an 11th hour save yesterday.
“[…]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 organizational goals of BlackBerry. Prem Watsa, Chairman and CEO of Fairfax, will be appointed Lead Director and Chair of the Compensation, Nomination and Governance Committee and Thorsten Heins and David Kerr intend to resign from the Board at closing.”
“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.”
“I am pleased to join a company with as much potential as BlackBerry,” said Mr. Chen. “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.”
Mr. Chen is no stranger to corporate turn arounds. The last time we saw him, he was CEO of Sybase, Inc, a database and corporate software company. When Sybase was purchased by SAP AG, in 2010, the company sold for $5.25 billion.
In the interest of full disclosure, I earned my Sybase ASE and Rep Server merit badges as a DBA in the early 2000’s and I though that Mr. Chen, hearing him speak at two of the Sybase’s annual user conferences, did a good job of turning Sybase around leading up to it’s sale to SAP. I’m interested in seeing what he can accomplish with BlackBerry.
You can read the full press release on the BlackBerry website.