Research In Motion is on the verge of stripping its co-chief executives of their other shared role as chairman of the board, a Canadian newspaper reported on Tuesday, raising hopes among investors in the struggling BlackBerry maker.
Shares of the smartphone company jumped more than 7 percent on a National Post report that Barbara Stymiest, currently an independent member of RIM's board, is leading the race to replace Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie in the chairmanship. The paper cited unnamed sources familiar with events.
Any talk about an independent chairman is going to give this company a boost. It will increase the likelihood the value of this company will be unlocked, said BGC Partners analyst Colin Gillis.
RIM's shares sagged 75 percent last year after a series of profit warnings, and the botched launch and dismal sales of its PlayBook tablet computer.
The precipitous drop has raised calls by some analysts and investors for RIM to consider strategic alternatives such as the splitting up or an outright sale of the company.
Lazaridis and Balsillie, RIM's second and third largest shareholders with a little more than 5 percent of the stock each, would probably resist such a move, analysts say.
It breaks the stranglehold the current CEOs and co-chairs have on the company, Gillis said, referring to any move to take the chairmanship away from them.
The Waterloo, Ontario-based company in June agreed to study its unusual corporate structure and report back to investors by the end of January, narrowly avoiding a vote of confidence at RIM's last annual meeting.
Stymiest, a former chief operating officer and head of communications at Royal Bank of Canada and ex-CEO of the Toronto Stock Exchange, joined the RIM board in 2007.
RIM did not respond directly to the report, but said a committee of its independent directors was on track to deliver its recommendations on RIM's governance structure by January 31.
RIM shares were trading 7.8 percent higher at $15.64 on the Nasdaq and up 6.6 percent at C$15.78 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
(Reporting by Alastair Sharp in Toronto and Sinead Carew in New York; Editing by Frank McGurty)