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BlackBerry Ltd. yesterday said it is preparing to lay off 250 workers at its Waterloo, Ont. headquarters as it continues restructuring with a new executive chairman and the infusion of a $1 billion cash injection from investors.

The smart phone maker said in a statement that it is in a transition period and that the latest job cuts are part of a larger retrenchment program that will eventually see 4,500 people losing their positions. The elimination of at least 40 per cent of BlackBerry’s current workforce is part of its move to cut cost and refocus its business.

A statement from the company said that BlackBerry recognizes the hard work of its local employees and that it is offering support to them during the transition.

John Chen, former CEO of Sybase, has taken over the reins of the company from BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins.

Chen, who is considered a turnaround expert, was named interim CEO of BlackBerry after a takeover of the mobile phone company by Fairfax Financial Holdings fell apart earlier this month.

Chen is now responsible for control over the strategic direction of BlackBerry, strategic relationships and organization goals of the company. He also has authority over hiring, retention as well as duties and responsibilities of all officers, executives and employees.

Although the Fairfax takeover failed to materialize, the financial firm and other companies agreed inject $1 billion into BlackBerry. Richmond Hill Ont.-based Canso Investment Counsel invested $300,000; BlackBerry’s biggest shareholder Fairfax put in $250,000; Toronto’s Mackenzie Financial Holdings is in for$200,000; Qatar’s Qatar Holding LLC and Virginia’s Markel Corp. each invested $100,000; and Toronto’s Brookfield Asset Management Inc., invested $50,000.

Fairfax also agreed to sell its 10 per cent stake in BlackBerry next year.

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