Reuters Says Blackberry Interim CEO in 'For the Long Haul'
John Chen, BlackBerry's (NASDAQ: BBRY) interim CEO, is in it “for the long haul” according to the company's largest shareholder, Prem Watsa.
Prem Watsa, also known as “Canada's Warren Buffett” is the chairman and CEO of Fairfax Financial, a multi-billion dollar fund based out of Toronto.
As the largest shareholder, Watsa holds tremendous influence within BlackBerry. “John's committed for the long haul, he's an exceptional leader, he's going to do very well,” Watsa told Reuters. Chen had already made “some very significant changes,” he added.
Chen had been tapped to take over top ranks at the company on November 25. Chen replaced Thorsten Heins, who himself assumed top ranks of the company since January 2012, replacing the company's founders and co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis.
The company lost its market-leading title several years ago, losing out valuable market share to Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone and other smart devices.
Earlier this year, Watsa had hoped to take BlackBerry private in a $4.7 billion deal, but later dropped the takeout proposal. Watsa instead opted for a lead role in partnering with other funds in offering the struggling smartphone maker a $1 billion note offering.
The note offering, Watsa argued, injected the company with a new lifeline. “It's got lots of cash, it has a long runway for John to make sure that the company is successful,” Watsa told Reuters.
On Thursday, shares of BlackBerry were trading within pennies of its 52-week lows of $5.98. By contrast, shares of Apple hit new 52-week highs of $577.25 on the same day.
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