In a study published on January 4, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) reported that John Chen was the highest-paid CEO in Canada two years ago. The study was based on a review of annual filings made by 249 Canadian public companies in 2014 and its findings were widely reported by Canadian news outlets. The media reporting on this topic presents a misleading view of our CEO’s compensation.
Fully 95% of the compensation attributed to Mr. Chen in the CCPA study relates to an award of restricted stock units (RSUs) granted when he was appointed as Executive Chairman and CEO of BlackBerry in November 2013. These time-based RSUs vest during the second half of a five-year period, to align Mr. Chen with the long-term interests of BlackBerry shareholders. To date, none of the RSUs have vested and he has not received the benefit of any of the shares attributed to him in the CCPA study.
In 2014, Mr. Chen did not receive any additional stock-based compensation. He also waived his right to a guaranteed cash incentive bonus for the year, electing to participate instead in the annual variable incentive plan (VIP) alongside his direct reports. As disclosed in our 2015 annual filings, which were not mentioned in the CCPA study, Mr. Chen’s total compensation decreased by 96% from the previous year.
At BlackBerry’s annual meeting in 2015, over 90% of the company’s shareholders voted in favor of a “say-on-pay” resolution affirming the Board’s approach to executive compensation.