BlackBerry pitches buyback plan to purchase 12 million shares

Waterloo-based smartphone maker BlackBerry will buy back 12 million of its own shares, news that sent the company's stock up more than two per cent on Friday.
Chief executive John Chen said last August that BlackBerry had come to the end of three years of layoffs. (Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press)

Waterloo-based smartphone maker BlackBerry will  buy back 12 million of its own shares, news that sent the company's stock up more than two per cent on Friday.

BlackBerry, which has not repurchased any outstanding securities in the last year, said it would present a new employee share purchase program and propose an increase in its equity incentive plan at its annual meeting on June 23.

BlackBerry said it would buy the shares, which works out to about 2.6 per cent of its outstanding public float, over the Nasdaq Stock Market or on the Toronto Stock Exchange, subject to approval.

The company has a float of about 502.8 million shares, according to Thomson Reuters data. Blackberry says it will pay market price, if and when it makes any purchases.

CEO sees pay cut

The smartphone company also revealed in a regulatory filing Thursday that CEO John Chen saw his compensation dramatically reduced this year. John Chen took in total compensation of $3,420,683 this fiscal year, with a base salary of $1 million bolstered by $1.2 million in stock-based compensation and about the same amount in other incentives.

That's a steep drop from last year when his base salary was $326,374 but topped up with more than $84 million in stock-based compensation.

But Chen also owns 13 million Blackberry shares that have not yet vested, which at current market rates are worth about $140 million. 

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