Beleaguered BlackBerry is exploring the possibility of putting itself up for sale, but who could snap it up? And who would want to?
After the Canadian tech company announced it would explore “strategic alternatives” on Monday, several potential buyers sprang to analysts' minds.
Some suggested tech competitors like Microsoft or Samsung, while others eyed Fairfax Financial head Prem Watsa, who stepped down from BlackBerry’s board Monday to avoid “potential conflicts of interest.”
Chinese companies might want to throw their hats in the ring, although the Harper government's reaction to a foreign takeover of this kind could prove problematic.
If a sale isn’t in the cards, other options are on the table, BlackBerry said, including “possible joint ventures, strategic partnerships or alliances.”
Check out who might be interested in BlackBerry in the slideshow below.
Tech journalist Peter Nowak broke down the math behind a potential acquisition. “<a href="http://wordsbynowak.com/2013/08/13/microsoft-blackberry/" target="_blank">Putting BlackBerry and Microsoft’s Windows phones together would amount to almost seven-per-cent share. That’s still small, but it’s almost within striking distance of Apple</a>,” he wrote. Microsoft would also eliminate a major competitor in the cellphone market, Nowak wrote. The thought may have even crossed Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s mind last year. At the time, <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/29/us-rim-options-idUSBRE85S04J20120629" target="_blank">sources said he approached what was then Research In Motion (RIM) about using Windows on its smartphones</a>. However, Microsoft could pass on BlackBerry and <a href="http://www.streetinsider.com/Insiders+Blog/Who+Will+Buy+BlackBerry+(BBRY)%3F+Here+Are+Some+Potential+Suitors.../8594463.html" target="_blank">concentrate on the similar relationship it has with Nokia</a>.
Earlier this year, the China-based tech company said it was “<a href="http://business.financialpost.com/2013/01/24/lenovo-looking-at-bidding-for-rim-to-bolster-mobile-unit/?__lsa=a51b-90d9" target="_blank">looking at all opportunities</a>” for potential purchases or alliances that might develop its mobile business, including RIM. Although a bid never emerged, <a href="http://www.canadianbusiness.com/technology-news/the-5-companies-most-likely-to-buy-blackberry/" target="_blank">perhaps now that BlackBerry’s market share has declined even further it’s time for Lenovo to strike</a>, Canadian Business suggested. Although we’ll have to see what the Harper government has to say about the possibility of a foreign takeover.
<a href="http://247wallst.com/consumer-electronics/2013/08/12/will-jeff-bezos-buy-blackberry/" target="_blank">24/7 Wall St. nominated Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos</a> as a potential BlackBerry buyer. His Washington Post strategy — buy a struggling company and “see what happens when someone with a vision takes over ” — could also work wonders for the troubled tech giant. It could also help Amazon break into the smartphone market, 24/7 Wall St. reasoned.
Purchasing BlackBerry would help Samsung <a href="http://www.bnn.ca/News/2013/8/12/BlackBerrys-for-sale-but-whos-buying.aspx" target="_blank">reduce its reliance on Google’s Android operating system</a>, and as IBNLive.com noted, <a href="http://ibnlive.in.com/news/five-options-who-could-buy-blackberry-and-who-wouldnt/413908-11.html" target="_blank">incorporating BlackBerry’s capabilities would be easier than developing its own system</a>.
As BlackBerry announced its review of “strategic alternatives” on Monday, Prem Watsa, founder, chairman and CEO of Fairfax Financial, <a href="http://business.financialpost.com/2013/08/12/watsa-pensions-could-take-run-at-blackberry/?__lsa=5ab6-2a45" target="_blank">stepped down from BlackBerry’s board due to “potential conflicts of interest that may arise during the process.”</a> Fairfax Financial owns 51.9 million shares, or 9.9 per cent of the company, and is the company’s biggest shareholder. Jefferies & Co. analyst Peter Misek said Watsa’s resignation “<a href="http://business.financialpost.com/2013/08/13/blackberry-ltd-shareholder-prem-watsa-is-an-investor-with-a-long-view/?__lsa=8d5b-f3dd" target="_blank">supports a possible leveraged buyout</a>.” “We believe Fairfax — along with other Canadian pension funds and banks — are considering taking BlackBerry private,” he told Bloomberg.
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