Blackberry Gives Juicy Salary Package To New CEO

Image via Flickr/ JD Lasica

John Chen, the incoming CEO for Blackberry Ltd. (NASDAQ:BBRY), has been offered a pay package that is worth approximately $88 million. The package includes a $3 million salary and $85 million worth of restricted stock.

Chen was announced as the interim CEO to replace the ousted Thorsten Heins on November 4th. Heins was removed after Fairfax Financial Holdings’ plan to take the company private failed to go through. Chen will bring a new vigor to the office, no doubt spurred on by his more than generous salary.


The salary package comes with a $1 million salary, followed by a $2 million performance bonus and 13 million shares of preferred stock. The cash flow will begin immediately, with the stock vesting throughout the next 5 years.

Thorsten Heins severance package was much less generous than the salary offered to Chen, with a value of about $14 million. This number is based on estimates drawn from a filing by the languishing smartphone maker in May of this year.

If Chen were to be terminated without cause, according to the agreement he signed, he will receive the remainder of his salary for the year, as well as two times his base salary and bonus. This totals $6 million in severance pay – not bad for an interim CEO.

Can Blackberry Rebound?

Chen has his work cut out for him when it comes to bringing Blackberry back to life. The Canadian company has been struggling just to stay afloat in the market in the last few years, and its once dominant smartphones are now a distant memory in the minds of many consumers. With Google’s Android OS and Apple’s iOS, Blackberry has not been able to keep up in recent years.

John Chen was able to bring Sybase Inc. back around when he took the helm there, but it’s doubtful whether anyone can make Blackberry the powerhouse it once was. The market it once dominated is now almost completely devoured by Apple and Samsung, the latter which makes Android based phones.

Fairfax Financial Holdings placed a bid to buy the company out and take it private, but it failed to gain enough traction to go through. Instead, the deal collapsed and Blackberry missed the opportunity. Instead, Fairfax is heading up a group of investors who have worked out a deal to help salvage the company through a bond program. Chen is part of this plan to make the company profitable once again.

Only time will tell if Blackberry can once again gain its competitive edge in the smartphone market. In the meantime, the company is paying out the wazoo for an interim CEO.
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Disclosure: Author represents that he has no position in any stocks mentioned in this article at the time this article was submitted.