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RIM staves off shareholder revolt, forms 'independent committee' to examine executive structure

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Waterloo continues to be a font of corporate strangeness today, as RIM announced that they're forming a "committee of independent directors" whose mandate will be to study RIM's executive structure -- specifically looking into the powerful roles that Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis play as both CEOs and board members. The move was designed to fend off a motion from Northwest & Ethical Investments L.P. to demand RIM change the co-CEO structure it defended so vehemently earlier this month. The announcement also comes just hours after the company responded to an open letter criticizing the company's strategy and management. In other words, it's one crazy time to have a either financial or emotional stake in RIM.

Overall, this committee strikes us as a pretty sweet deal for Mike and Jim. The independent committee can "study" all the way until January 31st, 2012, at which point RIM's board will have 30 days to respond to its report. NEI Investments will have some say in the committee's "specific terms of reference," but when your starting point is "clarifications of the Co-CEOs and Chair roles" (emphasis ours) and your ending point is a board peopled with the very people under discussion (5 of RIM's 9 board members are employees), a status-quo outcome starts to feel pretty likely. And nobody knows "status-quo" like RIM.

via Financial Post