Blackberry closer to possibility of going private

Sources said that no deal is imminent and Blackberry has not launched any kind of sale process. Picture: PA
Sources said that no deal is imminent and Blackberry has not launched any kind of sale process. Picture: PA
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BLACKBERRY is moving closer to the possibility of going private as the smartphone maker battles to revive its fortunes.

Chief executive Thorsten Heins and the company’s board are increasingly coming around to the idea that the option would give them breathing room to fix its problems out of the public eye.

Sources said that, although there has been a “change of tone on the board”, no deal is imminent and Blackberry has not launched any kind of sale process – but speculation saw the shares rise by more than 4 per cent in early trading in the US yesterday.

The company’s shares have fallen more than 19 per cent this year with its market value dropping to just $4.8 billion (£3bn), from $84bn at its peak in 2008.

Blackberry, which had been pinning its hopes for a turnaround on its latest range of Blackberry 10 devices, declined to comment.

The company’s apparent openness to consider a deal marks a radical shift in thinking at the once high-flying smartphone maker.

Until recently, Blackberry – formerly known as Research in Motion and a pioneer in providing secured e-mails on handheld devices – had been determined to stay independent and on betting its turnaround on its latest smartphones.

Last month, Heins said the company was on the right track and just needed more time to fix its problems. He said that the firm will unveil more devices that run on the BlackBerry 10 operating system over the next eight months.

The company has also been looking at options such as licensing its BlackBerry 10 software and other partnerships.

Ontario-based BlackBerry is understood to have recently had discussions with private equity firm Silver Lake Partners about potential collaboration in enterprise computing.

Silver Lake is currently involved in a bruising $25bn battle to take Dell private. Should it succeed in the Dell buy-out, then one possibility could be for it to collaborate with BlackBerry in mobile computing, where the PC maker has struggled to gain traction.

The talks with Silver Lake did not involve any buy-out or other transaction-related discussions, the source said. Silver Lake declined to comment.

BlackBerry 10 sales have come in well below some analysts’ expectations, raising questions about whether the company can quickly win back market share from Apple’s iPhone as well as Samsung’s Galaxy devices.

Some investors say the company must now look at all of its options, from a sale of the whole company to a sale of parts.

Its valuable patent portfolio and high-margin services business could draw interest from technology companies.

But private equity firms have circled the company for more than two years.