Once again, it’s the season for RIM takeover rumours, and this time it’s Microsoft that is said to be interested in the struggling BlackBerry maker.
Weeks after a dismal quarterly earnings report prompted the departure of RIM co-founder Jim Balsillie, and a general exodus of executives from the company, the financial blog Benzinga is reporting that "Microsoft is prepared to make a $3.5 billion investment in Research in Motion, according to sources.”
Neither Microsoft nor RIM would confirm the claim to Benzinga.
As IT World Canada notes: “No word about what the money would be for, what Microsoft would get out of the deal -- a stab in the dark might be for access to [RIM’s secure messaging service] BBM -- or how it would tie the two companies together.”
To be sure, there have been plenty of rumours like this floating around over the past year, as RIM has seen its market share, stock price and earnings slide.
In September, it was reported that activist investor Carl Icahn was planning to buy into the company. That was followed by claims that U.K. telecom giant Vodafone was interested in taking over the Waterloo, Ontario-based company. Then came claims Amazon.com was interested in the company.
In January, reports surfaced that then-co-CEO Balsillie was meeting with Samsung execs about a buyout, but the asking price may have been too high.
Reports at the time indicated RIM rebuffed many of the offers, preferring to go it alone. But comments from the company’s recently installed CEO, Thorsten Heins, that all options are on the table suggest the company may be more open now to a buyout.
But some analysts question why anyone would want to buy the struggling company, which saw revenue drop to $4.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011, down from $5.6 billion in the same quarter a year earlier.
“There are not that many buyers left” for RIM, Recon Analytics analyst Roger Entner said, as quoted at the Toronto Star. “BlackBerry is running out of sugar daddies.”
Asked on CNBC last week if there was room in the market for RIM in a world increasingly dominated by Apple’s iPhone and Android phones, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster replied “no.”
“Research In Motion is out of business,” Munster said, listing off a number of other phone makers -- including Nokia -- that he believes won’t survive in the new Apple- and Samsung-dominated era of smartphone and tablet computers.
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