BlackBerry names former SAP executive to head key business segment

Reuters
A man walks by a Blackberry sign at the Blackberry campus in Waterloo, September 23, 2013. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/Files
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A man walks by a Blackberry sign at the Blackberry campus in Waterloo, September 23, 2013. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/Files

By Euan Rocha and Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - BlackBerry Ltd (BB.TO) said on Tuesday that John Sims will join the company as head of its global enterprise services business, a key segment that is likely to be at the core of the smartphone maker's turnaround plan.

Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry said Sims will join the company in January from software giant SAP AG (GER:SAP), where he served as president of SAP's mobile services business.

BlackBerry's Chief Executive John Chen said Sims' extensive experience in transforming businesses will be a tremendous asset to BlackBerry as the company seeks to revive its faded fortunes.

Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry pioneered the concept of on-the-go email, and for years its pagers and phones were must-have devices for political and business leaders. But it has bled market share to Apple Inc's (AAPL.O) iPhone and a slew of phones powered by Google's (GOOG.O) Android software in recent years.

The company's new line of smartphones that run on its all-new BlackBerry 10 operating system have failed to regain market share, prompting the company to consider a possible sale earlier this year. Last month, it shelved the sales process and opted to refinance by issuing $1 billion in debt to a group of long-term investors including its largest shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings (FFH.TO).

At the time, the company announced that John Chen, credited with turning around Sybase in the late 1990s, was taking over as its chief executive, replacing Thorsten Heins.

NEW VISION

Chen, who took the reins in November, is keen to rebuild the company as a niche player focused on the so-called enterprise market that consists of large government and corporate clients. These security-focused customers were the ones that helped make BlackBerry devices ubiquitous back in the day.

The company hopes that its new BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 platform - that allows such clients to now manage BlackBerry, Android and iOS-based devices on their internal networks - will help make its services indispensable to clients once again.

It hopes that the offering will allow it to sell high-margin services to its large clients even if many, or all, of their employees are using devices made by BlackBerry's competitors.

Chen, who was instrumental in the sale of Sybase to SAP in 2010, worked together with Sims at the German software company. Chen, who returned Sybase to profitability in the early 2000s, had stayed on until 2012 following Sybase's acquisition by SAP.

Chen is expected to provide greater detail on his turnaround plans for BlackBerry on Friday, when the company announces its quarterly results. (Reporting by Euan Rocha and Alastair Sharp)

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