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BlackBerry maker urged to sell self or patents

india Updated: Sep 07, 2011 15:19 IST
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Research In Motion Ltd., the maker of the BlackBerry smartphone, should consider selling itself or spinning off its patents to boost investor returns after a slump in its stock price, investor Jaguar Financial Corp. said recently.



RIM should create a committee of four or five independent directors to study those options, Jaguar Chief Executive Officer Vic Alboini said today in an interview. Alboini, who declined to disclose the size of Jaguar's RIM stake, said his proposal has the support of several large shareholders who collectively hold less than 5 percent of the Waterloo, Ontario-based company.



RIM has come under pressure from investors to make strategic changes after its stock lost almost half its value this year amid market-share losses to Apple and Google. Northwest & Ethical Investments in June called for a split of the roles of chairman and CEO, shared by co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, to shake up leadership.



RIM's agreement to form a committee to study Northwest's proposal and report back by January 2012 was "woefully inadequate" and an "extreme example that management has not let go," Alboini said.



Toronto-based Jaguar, which describes itself as a merchant bank that invests in undervalued small-cap companies, has been active in the past to pursue its goals. Hudbay Minerals agreed in 2009 to cancel its $534 million takeover of Lundin Mining Corp. after Jaguar's Alboini rallied shareholders to oppose the bid.



Marisa Conway, a spokeswoman for RIM, declined to comment. RIM is counting on a range of smartphones expected in 2012 built on its new QNX operating system to regain market share it has lost in recent years. Its slice of the global smartphone market fell to 12 percent in the second quarter from 19 percent a year earlier, according to Gartner Inc. Over the same period, iPhone maker Apple climbed to 18 percent from 14 percent, and Google's Android platform rose to 43 percent of the market.



Alboini said that RIM's board has a responsibility to shareholders to consider other options and not to assume that QNX will be a hit that will revive RIM's fortunes.



"You cannot put all your eggs in one basket," he said. "The board should be saying, 'What if these products don't pan out?' You don't want RIM to turn into another Nortel."



Nortel Networks Corp., a Canadian maker of telecommunications equipment, filed for bankruptcy in 2009.