BlackBerry's new interim CEO John Chen has the mighty task of pulling the floundering Canadian tech company out of the toilet. The good news is if he's fired, he could walk away with a better deal.
According to Securities and Exchange Commission documents, Chen will pull in a base salary of $1 million with the possibility of making a $2 million bonus, depending on his performance. The rest of his compensation package is in stock -- 13 million shares to be exact. Based on Thursday’s closing price of $6.51 per share, 13 million shares would be worth almost $85 million.
That's an eye popping figure, to be sure. But – and there are a lot of buts – Chen’s stock compensation won’t be fully vested for five years. And, if the price of BlackBerry stock goes to zero, 13 million shares would become worthless.
Meanwhile, if Chen is fired, he will make the rest of the salary he is owed for that year, plus $6 million cash. He will also be eligible for all benefits, save transportation, for another year and a half after his termination.
BlackBerry, once the force to be reckoned in the smartphone market, has nearly fallen flat on its nose, unable to compete with the Apple iPhone and a myriad of smartphone devices that run with Google’s Android operating system.
Until Monday, the beleaguered Waterloo, Canada-based tech company had been trying to close a $4.7 billion deal with Fairfax Financial Holdings to go private. At the start of this week, BlackBerry announced that it had abandoned the deal and that Fairfax Financial would instead lead a $1 billion investment in the company.
As part of the shakeout, Thorsten Heins was forced to leave his post as CEO. According to SEC filings from May, Heins will make his base salary of $3 million for another two years, plus another $5 million cash and a stock portfolio that was at one time worth more than $16 million and is now worth more like $7 million, reports Arik Hesseldahl of All Things D.
Related: BlackBerry Says, 'Remain Calm. All is Well.'