BlackBerry CEO Chen's total compensation package value drops 96 per cent

BlackBerry chief executive John Chen took a major pay cut last year as he worked to turn around the money-losing company.

The head of the Waterloo, Ont.,-based technology firm saw the value of his total pay package drop 96 per cent to US$3.4 million in the company’s latest financial year, which ended Feb. 28.

Most of the decline was due to share-based awards Chen received when he joined the company in November 2013.

As part of that agreement, Chen received 13 million shares of BlackBerry that will be paid out over five years. The total amount of $84.8 million in share-based awards was recognized as part of his compensation package of $85.7 million in fiscal 2014.

Chen received a base salary of $1 million for the fiscal 2015 year as part of his existing agreement with the company. He also earned a much smaller $1.2-million in share-based awards in fiscal 2015 and $1.2 million for meeting performance bonus targets, compared with $653,846 in the prior year.

BlackBerry hired Chen in late 2013 after years of losing market share to competitors like Apple and Samsung. Part of his plan has involved launching more software services and forging new relationships with corporate customers and wireless carriers.

Late Thursday, BlackBerry (TSX:BB) announced plans to buy back up to 12 million of its common shares or about 2.6 per cent of the number outstanding.

The move comes as BlackBerry makes plans for a new employee share plan that would boost the number of shares available to staff. Shareholders will vote on the proposal at the BlackBerry annual meeting next month.

The share repurchase helped send the company’s stock higher Friday, rising 2.7 per cent to close at $12.88 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Follow @dj_friend on Twitter