BlackBerry executives sold newly vested stock on day of warning

A man walks by a Blackberry sign at the Blackberry campus in Waterloo on Sept 23, 2013. Top BlackBerry executives sold small blocks of the company's stock on the day that the smartphone maker warned of a huge quarterly operating loss and massive
A man walks by a Blackberry sign at the Blackberry campus in Waterloo on Sept 23, 2013. Top BlackBerry executives sold small blocks of the company's stock on the day that the smartphone maker warned of a huge quarterly operating loss and massive job cuts, according to Canadian regulatory filings. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

TORONTO (REUTERS) - Top BlackBerry executives sold small blocks of the company's stock on the day that the smartphone maker warned of a huge quarterly operating loss and massive job cuts, according to Canadian regulatory filings.

The filings showed that chief executive Thorsten Heins and chief financial officer Brian Bidulka sold about 51.1 per cent of their batches of newly vested shares on Sept 20, netting C$121,107.68 (S$147,000) and C$40,386.79, respectively.

There is no indication of any wrongdoing by the executives or the company.

The shares were sold automatically by the trustee of BlackBerry's restricted stock unit (RSU) plan to cover taxes owed by the two executives as a result of the vested RSUs, BlackBerry spokesman Adam Emery said by email.

RSUs are granted and then vest over three years on the anniversary date, said Mr Emery, noting the details of the plan are disclosed in the management circular, available on BlackBerry's website.

In BlackBerry's fiscal 2013, that ended March 2, Mr Heins received nearly US$3 million (S$3.75 million) in RSUs.

Filings on Canada's System for Electronic Disclosure by Insiders show that Mr Heins and Mr Bidulka have sold a similar percentage of BlackBerry shares around the same time over the last several quarters.

The executives sold a similar amount of stock at C$6.8517 a share on Sept 20 last year.

BlackBerry declined to make the executives available for comment.

Based on Friday's Toronto closing price of C$9.08 a share, the sale netted the two men a combined US$22,325.31 more than they would have received had they sold after BlackBerry's warning at about 3.15pm on Sept 20.

Trading in the shares was halted just before the announcement and resumed at about 3.27pm.

The company said it expected to report an operating loss of nearly US$1 billion for the quarter to late August.

The filings showed that Mr Heins sold 11,494 shares out of the 22,500 restricted stock units that vested on Sept 19 at C$10.5366 a share. Mr Bidulka sold 3,833 shares of his 7,500 vested shares during the same period at the same price.

The shares fell almost 24 per cent to C$8.25 after the warning on Friday, hitting their lowest level this year.

Both executives also sold 53.8 per cent of 10,000 restricted stock units that vested on Sept 20 for C$8.51 a share on Sept 23, the same day the company announced it had agreed to go private in a US$4.7 billion deal, led by its biggest shareholder. The shares closed at C$9.08 that day in Toronto.

Shares of BlackBerry finished at C$8.78 on Tuesday.