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BlackBerry replacing CFO; two other top execs leaving

A Canadian flag waves in front of a Blackberry logo at the Blackberry campus in Waterloo, September 23, 2013. REUTERS/Mark Blinch
A Canadian flag waves in front of a Blackberry logo at the Blackberry campus in Waterloo, September 23, 2013. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

By Euan Rocha

TORONTO (Reuters) - BlackBerry Ltd said on Monday that three top executives, including its chief financial officer, are stepping down as part of a widely expected shake-up after it named an interim chief executive and shelved plans to sell itself.

James Yersh is replacing Brian Bidulka as CFO, although Bidulka will stay on as an adviser through the end of the fiscal year.

The troubled smartphone maker, based in Waterloo, Ontario, said Kristian Tear, its chief operating officer, and Frank Boulben, its chief marketing officer, will leave. The company did not name replacements for either executive, but indicated more management changes could be coming.

BlackBerry also said Roger Martin, a board member since 2007, has resigned.

BlackBerry, once a market leader in the field of on-the-go email, has lost market share to Apple Inc's iPhone and devices that are powered by Google Inc's Android software. Its new line of devices powered by the BlackBerry 10 operating system have so far failed to win back customers.

BlackBerry shelved plans to sell itself in early November and opted instead to raise $1 billion via a convertible notes offering led by Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd, its largest shareholder. As part of the deal, it named John Chen as interim CEO, replacing Thorsten Heins.

"New interim CEO Chen is not behaving like an interim CEO, in our view, and is dramatically altering the company," Jefferies analyst Peter Misek wrote in a note to clients. The changes were a clear signal that BlackBerry is shifting its focus from the consumer market to enterprise customers, he added.

Chen, who helped turn around software maker Sybase in the late 1990s, told Reuters earlier this month that he would change management, both hiring from outside the company and promoting from within.

"I will continue to align my senior management team and organizational structure," Chen said in a statement.

New CFO Yersh has worked at BlackBerry since 2008 - as senior vice president, controller and head of compliance.

BlackBerry's next quarterly results are due on December 20, and analysts expect another large loss.

In the quarter ended August 31, BlackBerry reported a loss of nearly $1 billion, with revenues slumping 45 percent to $1.6 billion from a year earlier, as its new line of BlackBerry 10 devices failed to tempt buyers.

Shares of BlackBerry were up 0.5 percent at $6.27 on the Nasdaq on Monday, while its Toronto-listed stock was up 1.7 percent at C$6.62.

(Reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Janet Guttsman)

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