China’s Lenovo Group is actively considering a bid for Waterloo, Ont.’s BlackBerry, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
The personal computer and smartphone maker has signed a non-disclosure agreement that enables it to look at the company's books, the WSJ reported, citing an unnamed source.
Both companies declined to comment on Lenovo's interest.
Lenovo is one of several potential bidders for the troubled smartphone company, which officially put itself up for sale in April.
Cerberus Capital Management LP and BlackBerry co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Doug Fregin are among the groups that have expressed interest in BlackBerry.
Fairfax Holdings is the only company to have made a tentative bid for BlackBerry, offering $4.7 billion or $9 a share.
Lenovo is said to want to buy BlackBerry as an operating company with the potential to build a global market for its fledgling smartphone sales. Jefferies analyst Peter Misek has mentioned Lenovo as a good fit for BlackBerry, saying in an October note that the Chinese company might have an interest in its handsets and operating system.
Fairfax has until Nov. 4 to assess the company and make a final bid. In the meantime, BlackBerry can consider other offers.
Misek cautions that “No bid is final. No bid is concrete yet.”
Since there seems to be interest in the whole company, BlackBerry might not accept any bid for a piece of its business,” Misek told CBC News.
“The handset business is difficult to value. We’ve assigned a negative value to it. It will be interesting to learn how hardware companies such as Lenovo assign value if there is any,” he added.
Any deal by a Chinese company would be subject to takeover review by Investment Canada, which earlier this month rejected an Egyptian company’s takeover of MTS Allstream, citing national security concerns.