It cost Balsillie his chairman title. More important is the company's market momentum.
Chairman no more
Jim Balsillie must be wondering where the next booby trap will appear. The confident--some would say "blustery"--co-CEO of Research In Motion, maker of the BlackBerry mobile e-mail device, gave up the chairman title last week after an internal review found hundreds of stock-option grants had been backdated--timed to a low share price to make them more lucrative. Dozens of tech companies have had similar problems.
Having seen RIM through a prolonged patent dispute (RIM settled for $612.5 million), then bouncing back with the release of ultrapopular models like the BlackBerry Pearl this year, Balsillie must hope regulators are satisfied with the mop-up, which includes a $250 million restatement of past earnings. Balsillie retains his board seat, and he and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis will give up earnings associated with the backdated options and each contribute $5 million toward the investigation cost. But he can't sigh in relief yet: The Ironworkers Ontario Pension Fund has said it will go forward with a shareholder lawsuit.
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