Thorsten Heins, Research in Motion’s new chief executive officer, is getting all of the attention this morning, but behind the scenes the media-shy Prem Watsa is bringing some stability to the embattled firm.
As head of Fairfax Financial Holdings , Mr. Watsa has made some great calls throughout his career, including selling half of Fairfax’s equity holdings leading up to the 1987 stock market crash and purchasing “put” options that insured the company against a fall in the S&P 500 just before the tech bubble burst.
He also made loads of money for Fairfax shareholders by investing in what he believed were companies that traded (or were being sold) for less than their book value, or were severely discounted. That philosophy is now being applied to RIM as he considers increasing his stake (he is already the fourth-largest shareholder) and takes a board seat.
The Globe’s look at his involvement with RIM and his track record can be found here.
As for how he got involved, we’ve got that covered, too. To summarize: he was introduced to former RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis through Governor-General David Johnston, who was then head of University of Waterloo.