By Hugo Miller — TORONTO — BlackBerry Chief Executive Officer Thorsten Heins stands to make $55.6 million if he sells the company and is ousted.
That's the amount he's entitled to receive if BlackBerry has a change of control and Heins is pushed out by the new owners, according to a May proxy filing. The figure, which includes salary, incentive payments and equity awards, is based on BlackBerry's stock price at the end of the fiscal fourth quarter. The plan was approved by shareholders at its annual meeting on July 9.
Shares of BlackBerry have surged 19 percent in the past week on speculation that the struggling Canadian smartphone maker will be bought, broken up or taken private, bringing a windfall to investors. The Waterloo, Ontario-based company announced plans on Aug. 12 to form a board committee to consider a potential sale, as well as joint ventures and partnerships.
The board probably shouldn't have created an exit package that offers so much money for selling the company, said Sameet Kanade, an analyst at Jacob Securities Inc. in Toronto.
"The onus of structuring that contract was on the board," Kanade said. "It's a lot of money. The board should be looking out for shareholders."
Prem Watsa, a Toronto businessman and BlackBerry's largest shareholder, is stepping down from the board, fueling speculation that he may play a role in rescuing the company. Still, finding potential buyers may not be easy. BlackBerry bankers JPMorgan Chase & Co. and RBC Capital Markets quietly contacted possible bidders for almost a year and found little interest in acquiring the company, said two people familiar with those discussions.
The CEO of Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec, Canada's second-largest pension-fund manager, said today he'd consider investing in BlackBerry, though he knows of no deal in the works.