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Former Blackberry CEO sells all company shares

NEW YORK (AP) -- BlackBerry's shares soared Thursday as investors sensed a turnaround at the company, despite one of its former leader selling off his stake in the company.

The stock slipped in early trading but more than made up for it later, adding $1.08, or 7.7 percent, to close at $15.07.

Shares of the company, formerly known as Research In Motion Ltd., have more than doubled since September, when they closed at a multi-year low of $6.31, on optimism and favorable reviews of the new BlackBerry smartphone. The software has a fresh interface designed for touchscreens that is expected to give it a fighting chance against competitors like the iPhone and Android smartphones.

The vote of investor confidence followed the disclosure that Jim Balsillie, former co-CEO and co-chairman, sold all of his shares in the company. A regulatory document filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Thursday showed that Balsillie held no shares in the company as of the end of December. He previously held a 5.2 percent stake according to a filling in February of 2011. Company founder Mike Lazaridis still holds a 5.7 percent stake in the company, according to another regulatory filing on Thursday.

Lazaridis and Balsillie announced in January of 2011 that they would step down as co-CEOs after an extended decline in earnings and stock price.