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Updated: Thu, 07 Nov 2013 18:51:10 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

BlackBerry's new chief John Chen in line for $85M



John Chen has been named the interim CEO of BlackBerry. An SEC filing revealed a rich payout package. Jonathan Drake/Bloomberg News

John Chen has been named the interim CEO of BlackBerry. An SEC filing revealed a rich payout package. Jonathan Drake/Bloomberg News

A hiring agreement between new BlackBerry chief executive John Chen and the troubled smartphone maker could see him getting paid more than $85 million US.

Documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission show that Chen will be paid a yearly salary of $1 million, and a performance bonus of $2 million.

In a deal struck with Fairfax Financial earlier this week, BlackBerry agreed to hire Chen, known for turning around Sybase, as interim CEO and to give him a leadership role in restructuring the company.

According to the filing he would be "responsible for the strategic direction, strategic relationships and organizational goals of BlackBerry." 

In addition to his salary, Chen will receive 13 million BlackBerry shares  over the next five years. Those shares are worth $84.6 million at the current market value of $6.51 per share on the New York Stock Exchange, but if he turns BlackBerry around, would be worth much more.

Previous chief executive Thorsten Heins was in a line for a $55.6 million package if he was deposed because of a buyout. It is believed he left this week with a smaller payout of $22 million.

BlackBerry has been in the process of reducing its expenses in an effort to refocus the business, a move which has included laying off 40 per cent of its staff, or about 4,500 employees.

Fairfax backed off a proposal to buy the company and take it private, but agreed to a $1-billion finance package to buy the company time to restructure.

According to the SEC filing, Fairfax committed to $250 million and the rest of the $1 billion in financing came from Mackenzie Financial Corp., Brookfield Asset Management Inc., Markel Financial, Canso Investment Counsel Ltd. and Qatar Holding LLC.

Fairfax also agreed not to sell its 10 per cent stake in BlackBerry in the next year. 

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