BlackBerry to introduce employees to new leadership

BlackBerry is planning a series of town-hall meetings to allow employees to meet top executives after passing on a buyout offer this week.

WATERLOO, ONTARIO: BlackBerry is planning a series of town-hall meetings to allow employees to meet top executives after passing on a buyout offer this week.

Instead of a sale, a $1 billion investment by Fairfax Financial Holdings and an unnamed group will turn the embattled mobile company around, said communications SVP Heidi Davidson. The investment was disclosed on Monday after it passed on a buyout offer from Fairfax and BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins resigned.

Former Sybase chief executive John Chen will become BlackBerry's executive chairman and acting CEO. Fairfax chief executive Prem Watsa, who resigned this summer from BlackBerry's board to avoid possible conflicts of interest with the sale, is returning as its lead director.

In terms of internal communications, all day-to-day responsibilities will remain the same through BlackBerry's transition, Davidson said. The company is planning a series of town-hall meetings to give employees the opportunity to meet and interact with Chen and Watsa in-person.

With the billion-dollar investment, BlackBerry will implement the changes necessary to strengthen the company and ensure it remains a strong and innovative partner, said Davidson. She said she could not disclose further details with PRWeek.

“[The investment] represents a significant vote of confidence in BlackBerry and its future,” Davidson said. “The decision was made in the best interest of the company today and with a long-term commitment to turn BlackBerry around.”

The company is closely communicating with its stakeholders around the world, including employees, customers, partners, investors, industry analysts, policy makers, suppliers, and the media, according to Davidson. 

“Ultimately, this is a great investment for BlackBerry, and we look forward to telling our transformation story over time,” she said.

Other companies, like Chinese firm Lenovo, which is the world's largest PC-maker, are also reportedly considering buying BlackBerry.

In January 2012, BlackBerry's former co-CEOs James Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis left the company after its PlayBook tablet failed to gain traction, clearing the way for one-time Siemens executive Heins to take the reins. It rebranded from Research in Motion early this year.

In April, BlackBerry hired APCO Worldwide and Text 100 as its global agency partners. The account has been estimated at more than $10 million. That same month, it ended its relationship with Good Relations in the UK, where it continues to work with Frank PR.

Former BlackBerry agency Brodeur Partners sued the company in September, saying it was never paid for months of work.

Sources at both APCO and Text 100 confirmed that both firms are continuing to work on the account.

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