It's about time.
At long last, Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) may be about to make the first baby step toward addressing gripes over its corporate governance structure. Last summer, the company was able to nip an uprising in the bud by forming a committee to evaluate and review its unique co-CEO and co-chairmen roles and saying that the committee's findings would be detailed in a report due out at the end of this month (roughly seven months later).
In the meantime, shares have lost almost half their value, while the Canadian BlackBerry maker continues to wreck everything it touches as it continues to lose mobile market share to Apple and Google.
A recent report from the Financial Post says that as the review winds down, the company is about to shake up the board, and Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie may be relegated to only sharing the co-CEO nametag while turning in their co-chairmen badges. It's a telling sign that shares are enjoying healthy gains upward of 9% today on the mere hope that Lazaridis and Balsillie are loosening their steel grip on RIM.
Along with today's reshuffling optimism, the only times that shares see a meaningful rally is when there's spurned buyout speculation or when Angry Birds makes it to the Playbook. When was the last time you saw a headline like this: "Research In Motion Beats Estimates and Raises Guidance on Strong BlackBerry Sales, Shares Rally."
One of RIM's independent directors, Barbara Stymiest, is supposedly set to take the chairman role. She's one of the board's self-proclaimed corporate governance "experts," along with Roger Martin, who is the dean of the Rotman School of Management. Stymiest was previously the chief operating officer at Royal Bank of Canada and was also the head of the Toronto Stock Exchange.
She would be the first independent chair in RIM's history, if the report turns out to be accurate. It's hard to think that the status quo can persist for much longer. While I happen to think the entire board and management needs to be replaced, at least this is a step in the right direction.
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