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Tough questions expected at RIM annual meeting

A RIM BlackBerry smart phone. Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

All eyes will be on Research In Motion this week, as Canada's most important tech company holds its annual general meeting in Waterloo, Ont., on Tuesday.

RIM has had a tough time during the past year, to say the least. Poorer than expected quarterly results and a shocking profit warning have caused the company's stock price to lose half its value since January. Many analysts have cut their price targets and downgraded RIM shares, while other observers openly muse about whether the company's co-CEOs need to let another managerial team take over.

In addition to questions about management and how the company plans to regain the ground it continues to lose to Apple and Google in the North American smart phone market, RIM investors are likely to look for more information about whether the firm will give in to outside pressure and appoint an independent chair of its board of directors. Currently, RIM co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis also serve as co-chairs. But some investors have pushed strongly to end that arrangement.

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RIM had tried to placate investors in recent weeks by promising to form a committee to explore the possibility of restructuring the board. However, that move wasn't enough for some, such as San Francisco-based proxy adviser firm Glass Lewis & Co., which continues to call on RIM to appoint an independent chair of the board.

There is some good news for RIM as it heads into its AGM. Last week, the company announced it had added a million new subscribers across Europe, the Middle East and Africa in the past three weeks. RIM's fortunes in various international markets have been much better than in North America, even as cheaper Android-based phones begin to eat some BlackBerry market share in those regions.

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