TORONTO (Reuters) - Research In Motion gave in to rising shareholder pressure on Thursday and agreed to study splitting the role of co-chair and co-chief executive, avoiding an embarrassing showdown at its annual meeting next month.
The two roles of CEO and Chairman are currently shared by co-founder Mike Lazaridis and by Jim Balsillie.
RIM said in a statement it would establish a committee of independent directors to study the executive and board roles, and make recommendations for a corporate structure.
In response, activist shareholder Northwest and Ethical Investments, which holds more than half a million RIM shares, will withdraw a proposal for a vote on the issue at RIM's July 12 annual meeting.
The BlackBerry maker is struggling to present itself as a legitimate third option in a smartphone race increasingly dominated by tech giants Apple and Google.
(Reporting by Alastair Sharp; editing by Janet Guttsman)