BUSINESS

Research in Motion shares drop as head of global sales resigns from company

05/24/2012 10:42 EDT | Updated 07/24/2012 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - Shares of Research In Motion (TSX:RIM) closed at their lowest price since late 2003 on Thursday after the BlackBerry maker's head of global sales resigned.

A spokeswoman for the company confirmed that Patrick Spence has left his role after holding various positions at the company for the past 14 years.

"Patrick will be taking on a leadership position in a different industry," said Tenille Kennedy in a prepared e-mail statement.

RIM's stock was off 39 cents, or 3.43 per cent, to $10.98 at the close of trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

At its height the stock was trading at more than $148 in 2008, when RIM was briefly the most valuable company on the Toronto exchange.

Spence had a hand in the launch of RIM's early pager devices and later the BlackBerry's meteoric rise to one of the world's best-selling smartphones.

Before being promoted to the global sales position last July he was a managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

He leaves his position at RIM as the company heads into the crucial period leading up to the launch of its new line of smartphones later this year.

The BlackBerry 10 platform is seen as an important part of RIM's attempt to compete against the likes of Apple's iPhone and devices using Google's Android operating system.

Spence's exit also follows the appointment of two veterans from the mobile computing industry earlier this month.

Former Sony Mobile Communications executive Kristian Tear takes the role of chief operating officer this summer, and will also handle the sales responsibilities, Kennedy said.

In the meantime, chief executive Thorsten Heins will handle the sales role.

Frank Boulben will become RIM's chief marketing officer after working as executive vice-president of strategy, marketing and sales for LightSquared.

Earlier this month the Waterloo, Ont., tech giant gave a first glimpse of its much-anticipated new operating software at its annual developer conference in Orlando, Fla.

The BlackBerry 10 OS prototype was handed to developers in the hope of getting them onside and writing applications for the system, but it won't hit the market for several months.

RIM is contending with relentless speculation about a potential takeover, partly due to its weak share price. Heins has said plans are to move forward with developing its operating system and unveiling the new devices later this year.

Analysts are generally in agreement that it'll take a showcase of new products before any of them even consider a stronger vote of confidence. Even then, RIM will likely to face further skepticism until the first round of sales numbers are released and that probably won't happen until early next year.