Don’t Worry: Thorsten Heins Won’t be Awarded His Full $55 Million Severance Package

Thorsten Heins isn’t likely to walk away with his full $55.6-million compensation package when he leaves BlackBerry in two weeks.

The chief executive officer’s executive compensation plan is drawn to award him a very generous severance package if BlackBerry had a change of control and he was forced out—the idea being that he successfully sold the company and was given “severance” as a reward. However, that doesn’t appear to be what is happening here.

Instead, Heins is being terminated without a change of control—Fairfax won’t own more than 16% of all common shares as a result of the $1 billion deal revealed this morning. Consequently, Heins is entitled to a more modest $22 million in salary, incentive payments, and equity awards.

In fact, the above is a best-case scenario for Heins: if he resigns—which this situation may qualify as—he receives absolutely no severance amount.

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Heins will be replaced by John Chen on the interim. Chen will also serve as executive chair of BlackBerry’s board of directors. Fairfax head Prem Watsa will be appointed lead director and chair of the the Compensation, Nomination and Governance Committee. Heins intends to resign from the board.

“I am pleased to join a company with as much potential as BlackBerry,” noted Chen. “BlackBerry is an iconic brand with enormous potential—but it’s going to take time, discipline and tough decisions to reclaim our success. I look forward to leading BlackBerry in its turnaround and business model transformation for the benefit of all of its constituencies, including its customers, shareholders and employees.”

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Chen previously served as the chairman and CEO of Sybase Inc., beginning in 1998.

BlackBerry shares are down more than 12% in trading today.