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RIM’s Newest Board Member Prem Watsa is Betting Big on RIM

 Prem Watsa

A friend of mine pointed out to me that the addition of Prem Watsa (Wikipedia) as an independent board member on RIM’s board may be more than a simple appointment. As of September he was the fourth largest investor in RIM after Primecap Management and both Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie. Watsa was announced as a new board member after Mike and Jim stepped down. Watsa runs Fairfax Financial Holdings and is sort of the Warren Buffett of Canada. He told Bloomberg that he might buy more shares of RIM now that he is a board member.

Just like Buffett, Watsa is known for perceiving value where the market may not. According to the Globe & Mail he has a history of tackling companies in trouble and turning them around. Watsa is usually very reserved but he is stepping into the spotlight for RIM which makes me wonder what he has in store…

Watsa specifically told the Financial Post that “Mike asked me to join the board” and he recieved assurances that his “technology genius” would not leave the firm. He even went further to say that “Mike’s not going anywhere…. If he were going to retire, I would not have gone on the board.”

Anybody else think there is something going on behind the scenes?

9 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. For sure he is a key component in RIM’s turn around plan.

    The board now has all the information they need to move forward. It is a scary thing to find yourself on the wrong side of the road, with one wheel on the gravel shoulder. That is where RIM found itself. The absolute wrong thing to do is jerk the wheel 180 degrees in the opposite direction and put yourself in a worse position. It is painful to have to see, but i think Thorsten is doing the right thing.

  2. The biggest thing that Prem brings to the table is that his stake in the company is a block, to any outside hostile take over! RIM now has the breathing room to complete the transition and BBX.
    The people on the board and RIM management undersatnd what they have and are soon to bring to market. Great software takes time to build. Building it ontop of the strenght of the QNX micro kernal makes it a game changer!!
    QNX, BBX are not just app launchers, they are the future of mobile computing!!

    • You’re absolutely right. I think the long term strategy for the QNX micro-kernal can’t be underestimated. The market is so full of short term thinkers who want instant gratification. The combination purchase of TAT and QNX are a clear indicator that, as much as the media want you to believe it; RIM is not asleep at the wheel. daryll is right. Excellent software takes time, and patience is the essence of time.

  3. I have been a RIM supporter since day 1 back when the Blackberry was an interactive pager.

    The Blackberry is the best communication and productivity device available. We have not seen RIM’s best days as of yet! I am excited about what is yet to be for RIM.

    Continue to work at delivering the best products and services to your growing customer base and don’t worry about the stock price; it will grow just by providing the best and settling for nothing less.

    Stay focused on your goal just like you did when you needed to be King of email.
    It was no surprise that RIM became King of email because they stayed focused on their goal.

    Kudos to Mike and the RIM team!

  4. Maybe he should take the company private. The low stock price and missed street expectations are constand bad news for the blackberry brand.

    I don;t think he’ll do it. Too big of an investment for Fairfax, but it really would be nice. Half of the battle for RIm is the markets shitting on the stock.

  5. With Prem on board holding a big block of shares as well as Mike and Jim the company is actually more protected against the disturbances and distractions that Alboini and Jaguar Financials are causing by calling for the sale of the company or the riddance of Jim and Mike.

    Prem along with Roger Martin (another director of the board) does not believe that the primary purpose of the company is to maximize the shareholders investment with short term gains and and that executives spend way too much time dealing with analysts and shareholders focus only on quarterly earnings. A view reflected in how Rim have dealt with press releases and responses to negative press. Martin wrote a book about this called Fixing the Game. He goes on to say that the focus should be on the customer and away from shareholder value.

    By having enough directors on board that share the same vision as Prem, Jim and Mike has given the company breathing room and a little time to make the changes. It’s up to Thorsten to deliver those changes in the works on time.

    As other posters have stated changing an operating system is difficult and impossible to do overnight. It’s like Apple saying we’re giving up on iOS and will now shift everything to windows base…

  6. I think Mike & Jim should buy doughnuts! They looked at the stock price and decided to appease a few angry investors. In the end, the “shake-up” at the top did nothing to calm investor concerns. Perhaps Mike & Jim should have listened to their own words of wisdom :)

  7. Watsa is a not just a wealthy investor but he himself comes from a highly technical back ground. Also I think he is very close to ML and as others said that gives RIM a chance to defend itself from a hostile take over.–prem-watsa-meet-the-man-behind-the-rim-shakeup

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