Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

c.2013 New York Times News Service

OTTAWA, Ontario — In his first move since becoming acting chief executive of BlackBerry, John S. Chen has removed several senior executives at the troubled smartphone-maker, the company said Monday.

Gone from the company are Kristian Tear, the chief operating officer, and Frank Boulben, the chief marketing officer. In addition, Brian Bidulka has been replaced as chief financial officer, although he will remain with BlackBerry for the balance of its fiscal year as an adviser.

Roger Martin, the former dean of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, also announced his resignation as a director, a position he has held for six years.

Tear, who was born in Sweden and is a former Sony Ericsson executive, and the French-born Boulben, who worked for several wireless carriers in Europe, were part of a team brought in by Thorsten Heins, BlackBerry’s former chief executive, last year.

Along with Heins, who is from Germany and a former Siemens executive, they were widely blamed for the failure of the BlackBerry 10 line of phones, which was introduced this year and was supposed to be BlackBerry’s salvation.

It was widely assumed that their positions were vulnerable after Heins was fired earlier this month. His removal followed the failure of a takeover bid to take BlackBerry private by Fairfax Financial Holdings of Toronto, BlackBerry’s largest shareholder. Fairfax instead gathered a consortium of investors to lend BlackBerry $1 billion in convertible debt and brought in Chen, the former chief executive of Sybase, as acting chief executive and executive chairman.

Adam Emery, a BlackBerry spokesman, said that the company would no longer have chief operating and chief marketing executives. He said he was unable to elaborate on that decision, citing a “quiet period” preceding the company’s quarterly financial report, due Dec. 20. It will follow a quarter in which BlackBerry reported a $1 billion loss. Many analysts anticipate that BlackBerry will again write down large inventories of unwanted phones, which will again force it to post substantial losses.

Some investors have suggested that BlackBerry should abandon making phones and concentrate on software and selling secure wireless services to businesses and governments. But Chen, who is commuting to BlackBerry’s headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario, from California, suggested in a statement that was not part of his plan.

“I will continue to align my senior management team and organizational structure and refine the company’s strategy to ensure we deliver the best devices, mobile security and device management,” he said.

Bidulka will be succeeded by James Yersh, who has been with the company since 2008 and is its controller and head of compliance. Yersh previously worked for Deloitte and Cognos, a technology company based in Ottawa that is now part of IBM.