BUSINESS

BlackBerry shares take another hit as further insight emerges on its operations

10/02/2013 02:04 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
TORONTO - Shares of BlackBerry moved higher Wednesday afternoon following reports that the New York-based private equity firm which helped rescue Air Canada is now circling the struggling Canadian smartphone maker.

Stock in Waterloo, Ont.,-based BlackBerry rose about one per cent, or 11 cents, to $8.30 on the Toronto Stock Exchange, after a steep decline over the past week.

Earlier in the session, BlackBerry shares had fallen as much as 44 cents a share.

A report in the Wall Street Journal said that Cerberus Capital Management aims to sign a confidentiality agreement to access BlackBerry's financial information. However, the move is no guarantee that the distressed asset manager would actually make an offer for the company.

Cerberus has a long relationship with Canadian companies and in 2004 helped rescue Air Canada (TSX:AC.B) from bankruptcy.

In 2008, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (TSX:CM) sold part of its structured credit portfolio to Cerberus in a US$1.05-billion deal as it backed away from exposure to the U.S. residential mortgage market.

BlackBerry is in the midst of its own financial strife that has eroded the reputation of the company and its share of the smartphone market.

Late Tuesday, BlackBerry filed documents with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission which said that uncertainty over its strategic review process "may have negatively impacted demand for the company's products."

The issued has gained heightened attention since the end of the quarter, with Fairfax Financial (TSX:FFX), BlackBerry's biggest shareholder, emerging last week with a preliminary US$4.7-billion takeover offer.

BlackBerry stopped providing specific data for its subscriber base earlier this year, saying that it no longer accurately reflects its business model. However, the company has confirmed that "customers'' continued to decline in the second quarter in every region except the Asian-Pacific market.

BlackBerry also said the cost of reworking its operations will likely be four times as much as it estimated earlier this year — rising to at least US$400 million before the end of May 2014.

Those expenses will cover costs associated with the previously announced layoffs of 4,500 employees, the reworking of its smartphone lineup and other changes to its manufacturing, sales and marketing operations, it said.

The company has also launched an initiative to sell certain unnamed assets its considers "redundant'," including properties, as well as plants and equipment, though the company did not identify anything specific.

For the second quarter, BlackBerry said it booked a loss of $7 million related to the declining value of those assets.

The Globe and Mail reported Wednesday that BlackBerry has asked real estate firms to suggest ways for tapping the value of its properties in the Waterloo area, about 20 buildings.