Blackberry admits sale of the company an option

STRUGGLING mobile phone firm Blackberry, which has been left trailing by rivals such as Apple and Samsung, is looking for a buyer or partner to rescue the company.

Timothy Dattels will play key role as Blackberry struggles. Picture: Robert Perry
Timothy Dattels will play key role as Blackberry struggles. Picture: Robert Perry

The Canadian outfit, once the darling of the sector, said it believed “now is the right time to explore strategic alternatives”.

Shares in the company had already 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.

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Although shares have reacted positively to sale talks, private equity firms have circled the company for more than two years with no potential deal put forward.

After being the sector’s trendsetter with its “push e-mail” service, Blackberry has struggled to compete against phones using Google’s Android operating system. Its latest Blackberry 10 smartphones have also failed to gain traction.

In a statement released before the US and Canadian markets opened yesterday, the company said board member Timothy Dattels, an investment banker and former Goldman Sachs executive, will chair the committee which will also include Blackberry chief executive Thorsten Heins.

“Given the importance and strength of our technology, and the evolving industry and competitive landscape, we believe that now is the right time to explore strategic alternatives,” Dattels said in a statement.

Trading in Blackberry shares was suspended yesterday but Tim Long, an analyst at BMO Capital markets, said although a change in structure could result in a higher share price in the near term, he did not expect any changes that would help Blackberry “reverse the significant smartphone share loss”.

Blackberry’s latest range hit the shops this year just as the high-end smartphone market began to show signs of saturation. Samsung recently reported results that fell shy of expectations, while Apple earlier this year reported its first quarterly profit decline in more than a decade.