RIM investors pull proposal to split CEO role

Northwest & Ethical Investments has agreed to withdraw its shareholder proposal to split the co-CEO and co-chairmen roles at RIM just weeks before the company's annual meeting.

Erica Ogg Former Staff writer, CNET News
Erica Ogg is a CNET News reporter who covers Apple, HP, Dell, and other PC makers, as well as the consumer electronics industry. She's also one of the hosts of CNET News' Daily Podcast. In her non-work life, she's a history geek, a loyal Dodgers fan, and a mac-and-cheese connoisseur.
Erica Ogg

An investor push for Research In Motion to split its dual-CEO structure was unexpectedly withdrawn today after an agreement was made with RIM.

RIM announced today that after discussions between the two groups, Northwest & Ethical Investments will withdraw its shareholder proposal before RIM's annual meeting.

In exchange, RIM will set up a board of directors committee that will look at the necessity of having a lead director on the board versus a chairman, whether co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie need to have "significant" board-of-director-level titles, and provide guidance on whether to continue with the jointly held CEO title.

That committee will work with NEI on this and is supposed to report its findings by January 31.

A small investor in RIM, NEI issued the proposal last week, but was quickly backed up by two major shareholder advisory groups. All argued that it was considered best industry practice to keep the chairman and chief executive roles divided between separate people.

Earlier today an anonymous employee also joined the fray, posting an open letter on the Web asking Balsillie and Lazaridis to separate their roles as co-CEO and co-chairmen of RIM.

Correction, 2:50 p.m. PT: This story initially misstated the name of the investor. It is Northwest & Ethical Investments.