Balsillie Steps Down As RIM Chairman

RIM, maker of the popular BlackBerry wireless e-mail device, said it will restate its annual financial statements from 2004, 2005 and 2006 and for the first quarter of fiscal 2007. The Waterloo, Ontario-based company said it expects the restatement to reduce earnings during the period by about $250 million (U.S.).

Balsillie will keep his roles as director and co-CEO but has voluntarily relinquished the role of chairman, RIM said in a statement. The company described the separation of the roles of chairman and CEO as "consistent with current best practices in corporate governance."

Steve Beauregard, president of Regard Solutions, a RIM partner in Santa Monica, Calif., said Balsillie has represented "a lot of the heart and soul of the company" in terms of product direction.

"He deserves a lot of the credit for the success of the BlackBerry. He stood firm when there wasn't a market for wireless e-mail products, and he had the conviction to see it through to market," Beauregard said.

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In the fourth quarter ended March 3, 2007, RIM said it signed up 1 million BlackBerry subscriber accounts within a single quarter for the first time.

Balsillie and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis will each voluntarily contribute about $4.25 million to help counteract costs involved in the restatement, according to RIM.