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BlackBerry executives sold newly vested stock on day of warning

The company logo is see at the Blackberry campus in Waterloo, September 23, 2013. REUTERS/Mark Blinch
The company logo is see at the Blackberry campus in Waterloo, September 23, 2013. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

By Solarina Ho

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 percent of their batches of newly vested shares on September 20, netting C$121,107.68 ($117,600) and C$40,386.79 ($39,200), 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 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, Heins received nearly $3 million in RSUs.

Filings on Canada's System for Electronic Disclosure by Insiders show that Heins and 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 September 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 $22,325.31 more than they would have received had they sold after BlackBerry's warning at about 3:15 p.m. (1915 GMT) on Friday, September 20.

Trading in the shares was halted just before the announcement and resumed at about 3:27 p.m.

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

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

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

Both executives also sold 53.8 percent of 10,000 restricted stock units that vested on September 20 for C$8.51 a share on Monday, September 23, the same day the company announced it had agreed to go private in a $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.

($1 = 1.0300 Canadian dollars)

(Additional reporting by Alastair Sharp and Leah Schnurr in Toronto, and Blaise Robinson in Paris; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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