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Prem Watsa, Fairfax boost stake in RIM to 5.12%

Prem Watsa, chairman and CEO of Fairfax Financial Holdings

Jim Ross/jim ross/The Globe and Mail

Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. and its chief executive officer Prem Watsa have dramatically increased their stake in Research In Motion Ltd., after the company installed a new CEO and chairperson and named Mr. Watsa to its board.

Mr. Watsa, Fairfax and other companies related to them bought 6,499,500 shares of RIM on Wednesday and an additional 7,550,700 on Thursday, according to filings with U.S. securities regulators.

The group now owns 5.12 per cent of the BlackBerry maker, more than double the amount it held in the fall.

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"We are excited to be buying below book in this great company," said Fairfax spokesperson Paul Rivett.

Mr. Watsa had said in an interview this past weekend that he was looking at buying more shares, as RIM enters the next phase of its evolution.

He suggested that he is a believer in RIM's accomplishments to date, and in its ability to compete in the future.

RIM stock lost three-quarters of its value last year as a series of mishaps, including the disappointing launch of its tablet computer, hurt the company. The stock closed at $16.79 on the Toronto Stock Exchange Friday, down from $17.24 the previous Friday, which was prior to the company's announcement that it was promoting former chief operating officer Thorsten Heins to CEO, and current director Barbara Stymiest to chair of the board. RIM also announced on Sunday that it was naming Mr. Watsa to its board.

The market did not react positively to the news, with RIM's stock having dipped as low as $14.77 this week.

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