Emerging Technology

BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins could receive a $US55.6 million golden parachute

Andrew Sadauskas /

The chief executive of embattled smartphone giant BlackBerry, Thorsten Heins, could receive a golden parachute worth up to $US55.6 million if the company is sold, according to reports.

According to Bloomberg, in the event of a sale in which Heins is replaced by the new owners, he is set to receive a compensation package estimated to be worth $US55.6 million including salary, incentive payments and equity awards.

If Heins is terminated without a change of control, he is set to be rewarded with a far more modest total compensation package of just $US22 million, along with an annual incentive payment of $US2.8 million.

The figures are drawn from a May proxy filing and was approved by shareholders at the company’s annual meeting on July 9, with the figures based on the company’s share price as of March 28.

On Tuesday, SmartCompany reported the embattled smartphone maker announced the creation of a special five-member board to examine sale options, on the same day its largest shareholder, Prem Watsa, dramatically resigned from the board of directors.

Watsa’s Fairfax Financial Holdings – not related to the Australian media company – is the largest individual shareholder in the company, having purchased a 9.9% stake in the company for $880 million.

The resignation followed an exodus of senior executives from the company in recent weeks, including corporate information technology operations vice-president Doug Kozak, global manufacturing and supply chain senior vice-president Carmine Arabia, and service operations vice-president Graeme Whittington.

Watsa, along with the Canada Pension Plan, are shaping up as key bidders for the company.

Despite the precarious situation, on Wednesday the company launched its new Q5 smartphone amid reports entrepreneur and angel investor Robin Chan made a secret offer to Heins to save the company between June and August of last year.

Chan would have switched the company’s devices to Android.

It has also emerged bankers from JPMorgan Chase & Co. and RBC Capital Markets have contacted a range of potential investors, including private equity firms and competitors about a possible takeover, but have found little interest.

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Andrew Sadauskas

Andrew Sadauskas is a former journalist at SmartCompany and a former editor of TechCompany.

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