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Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan bought almost 7.8 million shares of BlackBerry Ltd. in the third quarter, giving John Chen's turnaround plan another vote of confidence.

The retirement fund is now one of the Waterloo-based smartphone maker's top 10 holders with 8.23 million shares as of Sept. 30, according to a regulatory filing today. The 1.6 per cent stake is valued at about $84.5-million (U.S.), based on yesterday's closing stock price.

One year in as chief executive officer, Chen has helped BlackBerry recover from a failed buyout and put its stock on pace to beat the Nasdaq Composite Index this year for the first time since 2009. Chen has outsourced manufacturing, sold real estate and focused on core business customers as he aims to start making a profit again next fiscal year.

BlackBerry had risen 38 per cent this year through yesterday. The shares were up 2.6 per cent to $10.54 at 2:48 p.m. New York time today.

"Given the multitude of changes that occur quarter to quarter, we don't discuss individual stock holdings and increases/decreases in positions," Deborah Allan, a spokeswoman for Ontario Teachers, said in an e-mail.

The pension fund manager also disclosed it bought almost 127,000 shares in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., China's largest e-commerce company, during the quarter. The stake in Alibaba is valued at $14.2-million based on yesterday's close.

Ontario Teachers had about $140.8-billion (Canadian) in assets under management at the end of last year.

A BlackBerry representative didn't immediately return a call seeking comment on the investment.