John Chen to extend BlackBerry contract until 2023

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Judas or Saviour? That is a question that can keep BlackBerry users in a heated debate for hours on end.  Whether you think he destroyed BlackBerry, or indeed saved  the company from extinction, is a topic of discussion that that has been going on since 2013, when Chen joined the company.

It now appears BlackBerry uses will be able to continue to have these discussion for another 5 years at least, as BlackBerry and its Executive Chairman and CEO, John Chen, today announced an agreement to extend Mr. Chen’s leadership of BlackBerry through November 2023.

Chen joined BlackBerry in November 2013 and is responsible for defining the company’s vision and goals, setting its strategy, and ensuring its execution.

Prem Watsa, Lead Director and Chair of the Compensation, Nomination and Governance Committee of the BlackBerry Board said,

“The BlackBerry Board of Directors has tremendous confidence in John Chen. John engineered a successful turnaround and has the company repositioned to apply its strengths and assets to the Enterprise of Things, an emerging category with massive potential,”

“John’s leadership is critical and the Board has determined that it is in the best of interests of BlackBerry and its shareholders to continue his service through November 2023.”

Since becoming CEO, Chen has led BlackBerry through a turnaround that has seen the iconic company shed its hardware manufacturing business, return to financial stability, and make strategic investments in cybersecurity and embedded software that today are delivering the vast majority of the company’s revenue and growth.

The five-year contract extension for Chen is weighted toward long-term performance-based equity and cash awards, in addition to a time-based equity award. There will be no change to Mr. Chen’s base salary, short-term cash incentive, or benefits.

The time-based equity award consists of five million restricted share units (RSUs) that will vest annually over five years in equal tranches beginning on November 3, 2019.

The performance-based equity award consists of five million RSUs that will vest in five equal tranches if and when the market price of BlackBerry’s shares rises to reach whole dollar amounts from USD $16 to $20.

The performance-based cash award will vest and become payable if the market price of BlackBerry’s shares reaches USD $30. The stock price targets for the performance-based equity and cash awards must be achieved over a 10-day trading average.

For all the performance-based awards to vest, the market capitalisation of BlackBerry would have to reach approximately $16.1 billion, representing an increase of about 134% above BlackBerry’s market capitalisation as of the close of trading on March 14, 2018.

Complete details will be provided in BlackBerry’s Management Information Circular, which will be filed and made public in May 2018 in connection with the company’s June 2018 Annual General Meeting of shareholders.


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