BUSINESS

BlackBerry Execs Met With Facebook To Talk Potential Bid: WSJ

10/29/2013 02:38 EDT | Updated 10/29/2013 02:38 EDT
AP
Thorsten Heins, president and CEO at BlackBerry speaks at a conference, Tuesday, May 14, 2013, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

BlackBerry executives flew to California last week to talk to Facebook about a potential bid for the struggling smartphone maker, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Citing "sources familiar with the matter," the Journal said it was not clear whether Facebook has any interest in bidding for BlackBerry, which is shopping around for other offers after Fairfax Financial offered $4.7 billion for the Waterloo, Ont.-based tech company last month. Neither BlackBerry nor Facebook would comment officially on the report.

The news comes as another round of layoffs hit BlackBerry's headquarters. BlackBerry said it will trim its staff by 300 employees, as part of a broader cost-cutting plan.

The smartphone maker said Tuesday that it would notify employees this week of the latest cuts since BlackBerry said in September that it would reduce its workforce about 40 per cent — about 4,500 people.

"We are in a period of transition and we must focus on enhancing our financial results to be in a better position to compete in this current mobile environment," the company said in a statement emailed by spokeswoman Rebecca Freiburger.

"We recognize our local employees' hard work on behalf of our company and the difficulty of this news."

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Evolution Of BlackBerry

In September, BlackBerry received a conditional takeover offer from Fairfax Financial, its largest shareholder, worth $9 per share. The conditional offer values the company at $4.7 billion.

Other interested buyers are also circling the company, according to reports from various media outlets. The tech names run the gamut from Google, Cisco and SAP, to Microsoft and Cisco.

Meanwhile, BlackBerry is also experiencing a resurgence in the popularity of its BlackBerry Messenger application, commonly called BBM.

The company said about 20 million users have downloaded the free app since it launched for Apple's iPhone and devices using the Android operating system last week. Within the first 24 hours of its release, the app had been downloaded 10 million times, the company said.

BlackBerry wants to turn BBM into a revenue generator for the company through advertising partnerships.

BlackBerry has said it expects to face costs of at least US$400 million before the end of May 2014. The expenses are tied to the severance payments for the layoffs, as well as reworking its smartphone lineup and other changes to its manufacturing, sales and marketing operations.

With files from The Canadian Press