BlackBerry co-founders weigh buy-out bid as business breakup increasingly likely

Oct 10, 2013
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BlackBerry co-founders weigh buy-out bid as business breakup increasingly likely

BlackBerry co-founder Mike Lazaridis is weighing an acquisition bid for the struggling smartphone company, increasing his controlling stake in the Canadian firm with a new share purchase. Lazaridis now controls around 8-percent of BlackBerry as a result of the deal, but is considering going even further and buying it outright, according to a new SEC filing.

The potential bid would be made in partnership with fellow RIM co-founder Douglas Fregin; together, the two founded Research In Motion back in 1985. Lazaridis left the company back in March, having already stepped down as co-CEO in early 2012.

"In light of [BlackBerry's] recent announcement that its board of directors has formed a Special Committee to explore strategic alternatives to enhance value and increase scale," the SEC filing states, Lazaridis and Fregin "are considering all available options with respect to their holdings of the Shares, including, without limitation, a potential acquisition of all the outstanding Shares of the Issuer that they do not currently own, either by themselves or with other interested investors."

It also confirms that the pair have "engaged, among other advisors, each of Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Centerview Partners LLC to assist with their review of strategic alternatives with respect to the Shares."

Of course, the co-founders aren't the only people to have expressed interest in BlackBerry after the company put itself up for sale in August. Initially, it looked as though existing investor Fairfax Financial Holdings would be the most likely suitor, with an offer of $9-per-share; however, since then, new bids are supposedly being weighed by Intel, Google, and others.

More worrying is the potential that, even if the deal with Fairfax is seen as the most promising, the investor itself might struggle to pull together the cash to carry it off. Struggles to get the $4.7bn buyout pot in place, insiders tell Bloomberg, have raised doubts that it will be able to go ahead, and suggestions that a more likely outcome is that BlackBerry will be broken up and different chunks sold off to various suitors.

That could include Samsung, SAP, Cisco, and others, it's said, all of whom are only interested in parts of BlackBerry, not the whole business. SAP is weighing a bid for the enterprise division, it's said; meanwhile, Intel doesn't want the company, but is said to be potentially keen on its patent portfolio.


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