BUSINESS

BlackBerry CEO John Chen's Compensation Down 96% In Fiscal 2015

05/22/2015 11:48 EDT | Updated 05/22/2015 11:59 EDT
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Blackberry's Exectutive Chairman and CEO John Chen speaks during a presentation at the Mobile World Congress wireless show in Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. BlackBerry will launch four new smartphones this year and a new package of cross-platform applications as it continues its "philosophical" shift to making software. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Not everyone can take a 96-per-cent pay cut and still make money hand over fist, but BlackBerry CEO John Chen is easily among this exclusive group of earners.

Chen’s total compensation fell to $3.4 million U.S. in fiscal 2015, according to papers BlackBerry filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this week. That’s down from $85.7 million U.S. the year before, Chen’s first year as CEO, most of which came in the form of restricted shares that vest over five years, the Wall Street Journal reports.

But it’s not all bad news for Chen. BlackBerry stock has seen strong growth (albeit from very low levels) since Chen took the reins, and the company filing shows that his $85-million stock package is now worth $140 million U.S.

Chen’s base salary for the most recent fiscal year was $1 million U.S., and he received another $2.4 million in share-based awards and incentive plans.

That means he earned significantly less than some other BlackBerry execs, at least this fiscal year. Chief operations officer Marty Beard was paid nearly $4.2 million in total compensation, while chief legal officer Steve Zipperstein walked away with $6.2 million.

And new hire Sandeep Chennakeshu, who joined the company last year to run its Business Technology Solutions unit, walked away with $18.2 million, of which all but $268,000 was shares.

BlackBerry shares jumped about 2 per cent Friday on news the company plans to buy back about 12 million common shares, or about 2.6 per cent of all those in circulation.

The company has proposed an employee share purchase plan and the stock buyback is meant to prevent dilution of the stock’s value, Chen said in a statement.

He said the share buyback is a good bargain for BlackBerry because “the market price [of BlackBerry stock] does not reflect what we view to be the underlying value and future prospects of our business.”

BlackBerry has been the subject of takeover rumours for years, and two such rumours circulated in recent weeks.

BlackBerry shares spiked a few weeks ago on reports the company was the target of a takeover by Apple, and a report this week suggested Microsoft may be interested in buying the Waterloo, Ont.-based tech company.

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