BlackBerry rescue bid considered by Cerberus with turnaround the target

BlackBerry has a new potential suitor, it's reported, with Cerberus Capital Management LP poking through the ailing smartphone company's financial records as it considers whether it could turn it around. The private-equity firm has inked a non-disclosure agreement with BlackBerry, Bloomberg Businessweek claims, giving it access to the Canadian firm's books. Interestingly, according to the source, Cerberus' goal would be to acquire all of BlackBerry and try to rescue its place in the market, rather than cut it up into pieces to be sold off separately.

That stands at odds with what most possible buyers of the company are believed to intend, with BlackBerry's value seen more about cutting up the hardware division, the enterprise business, and other parts, and selling them off to different buyers. Google, Intel, Samsung, and others have all been tipped as possibly interested in parts of BlackBerry, either its physical divisions or its patent portfolio.

Cerberus isn't the only recent entrant to the BlackBerry bid – if indeed the private-equity firm decides to make a play – with RIM co-founder Mike Lazaridis weighing a grab for the company he helped create as well. Lazaridis has not commented publicly on the possible purchase, but is expected to want to keep it operating as a single company.

At one point, it seemed BlackBerry's destiny was decided, with Fairfax Financial Holdings making a $4.7bn acquisition play. However, the fact that the company is yet to list its backers or indeed proved that it has the financial support to complete the deal has raised suggestions that it may not go ahead.

Cerberus won't comment on the reported NDA, saying only that it would not be discussing BlackBerry "until we approve a specific transaction or otherwise conclude the review of strategic alternatives."

Earlier this week, BlackBerry published an open letter to customers and investors attempting to placate them in this period of unrest. "You can continue to count on BlackBerry" the company wrote, pointing to its significant cash reserves.