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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

BlackBerry's Chen says three years of layoffs have come to an end

Several years of widespread layoffs at BlackBerry (TSX:BB) are finally over, according to an internal memo from the company's chief executive officer.

John Chen told employees Friday that the Waterloo, Ont.-based smartphone company has reached the end of cuts that began three years ago — part of an attempt to turn its business around.

"We have completed the restructuring notification process, and the work force reduction that began three years ago is now behind us," he wrote in the memo, which was obtained by The Canadian Press.

"I am confident that we have the right organization in place to execute our business strategy."

Chen said BlackBerry is now ready to make strategic acquisitions, like the purchase of Germany's anti-eavesdropping firm Secusmart that it announced last week.

The CEO was brought in last year and began to make dramatic changes to the company which included stripping out parts of the business, selling real estate and laying off employees to cut costs.

BlackBerry plans to begin "modest" hiring in certain areas of the business, such as product development and sales, Chen added.

"Many employees were let go, many others left by their own choice, while those who stayed often were uncertain about the company, its future and their future," Chen wrote.

"I know it can be very difficult to maintain a high level of focus and commitment during a time of turmoil and uncertainty."

The letter outlined some of BlackBerry's upcoming plans, which include the launch of several new devices and services.

Chen closed the letter reminding staff that while the company has made progress, it's still not clear of its challenges.

"I ask for your help more than ever to focus on execution at every level," he said.

"There is no margin for error to complete BlackBerry's turnaround to success."

BlackBerry shares were ahead 22 cents to $10.37 in morning trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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