Turnaround tricks

Since BlackBerry Ltd. hired John Chen as CEO last November, shares are up and the outlook for the tech firm is more positive. Chen might look to these corporate turnaround stories for inspiration.

1: Billion of US dollars Chrysler Corp. lost in 1979. In 1980, US President Jimmy Carter extends US$1.5 billion in credit to the car company as it teeters on the edge of bankruptcy. Three years later, Chrysler had shed 56,000 jobs, turned a profit of US$925 million and paid back the loan.

20: Billions of dollars in debt that preceded the 1992 collapse of Toronto real estate developer Olympia & York. Revived in 1997, O&Y and its 25 buildings were sold in 2005 to Brookfield Office Properties for $2.1 billion.

55: Millions of US dollars per month Continental Airlines was losing in 1994. The company improved customer care, shut unprofitable routes and enacted an incentive-pay system that bolstered operations. Continental's market cap was US$3.2 billion when it merged with United Airlines in 2010.

100: Days' worth of available operating cash at IBM when Lou Gerstner became CEO in 1993. Gerstner laid off 60,000 and transformed IBM from a computer hardware company losing billions to a tech-solutions firm whose stock rose 800% during his nine-year tenure.

250: Number of employees at Marvel Entertainment after the comic book company emerged from a 1996 bankruptcy. At the time, stock sat as low as US94¢ a share. In 2009, The Walt Disney Co. bought Marvel for US$4.3 million, or US$54 a share.

2003: Year toy maker Lego lost US$240 million and was the subject of takeover rumours. The Danish firm responded by firing nearly 45% of its workforce. In 2012, Lego had record revenue of US$4 billion.

About the Author

Steve Brearton


Steve Brearton is a freelance writer in Toronto.

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