RIM's Australian chief leaves BlackBerry maker

TORONTO Wed Jul 11, 2012 10:48pm IST

TORONTO (Reuters) - The head of Research In Motion Ltd's Australian and New Zealand operations has stepped down just months after being promoted to the job, becoming the latest senior executive to depart since Thorsten Heins took over as the BlackBerry maker's CEO.

Ray Gillenwater left RIM to pursue other interests, RIM said in a statement on Wednesday. Matthew Ball, who joined the company a year ago to manage its Australian marketing efforts, has replaced him.

During Ball's tenure as marketing chief, RIM admitted it was behind a publicity stunt in April in which black-clad protesters chanted "wake up" outside an Apple Inc retail store in Sydney.

RIM is quietly cleaning out layers of management under Heins, who himself replaced longtime co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie in January.

RIM's stock has fallen more than 70 percent in the past year as customers abandon the BlackBerry in favor of Apple's iPhone and a slew of devices using Google Inc's Android software.

Gillenwater was promoted to managing director of RIM in Australia in April after long-serving country head Adele Beachley left in February.

He had previously worked in less senior roles at RIM in the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia, according to his LinkedIn profile.

RIM, based in Waterloo, Ontario, is cutting 5,000 jobs, or almost a third of its workforce, as it seeks to save $1 billion this year.

A steady stream of senior staff has left RIM in recent months, including its chief legal officer, head of global sales, a chief operating officer and the head of software.

Mid-level executives responsible for the BlackBerry platform and the BlackBerry Messenger instant messaging service have also left. The head of RIM's India unit left in November.

(Reporting by Alastair Sharp in Toronto; Editing by Frank McGurty)

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