BlackBerry Patents Could Fetch $5bn If Sold To One Bidder

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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BlackBerry’s portfolio of patents could attract significant interest if put up for sale say analysts

BlackBerry’s portfolio of wireless patents could be worth as much as $5 billion, according to a report, should the struggling Canadian manufacturer put itself up for sale.

Chris Marlett, CEO of MDB Capital Group, told AllThingsD the patents could fetch the maximum price if they were sold to a single bidder. BlackBerry is believed to have 5,236 active US patents and another 3,370 active applications.

He explained that it is unlikely a portfolio this large is going to be put up for sale for some time, which could result in a number of companies initiating a bidding war that would hike the price up.

BlackBerry patents

BlackBerry Z10 TallGoogle completed a $12.5 billion takeover of Motorola Mobility in 2012 in a move it admitted was partly motivated by a desire to acquire the manufacturer’s patents. Google, along with Apple, Samsung and Microsoft have all been mentioned as potential bidders.

However the recent trend towards consortiums purchasing patent catalogues could potentially bring the price down to between $2 billion and $3 billion.

The patents are widely viewed to be BlackBerry’s most valuable asset, although Reuters suggests that its admittedly shrinking subscriber base could still be attractive to suitors. BlackBerry has 72 million subscribers, of which 20 million are believed to be enterprise or corporate. This could be a hugely profitable customer base for Google or Microsoft to take advantage of.

Also in BlackBerry’s favour is that it owns most of its facilities and has already spent a significant amount of money on restructuring and redundancies. However analysts see next to no value in the flagging handset businesses and even estimate it would cost close to $2 billion to shut down.

Marlett suggests that Microsoft might be tempted to acquire the whole of BlackBerry but a potential split of the service and handset divisions of the company has long been mooted and could be a possible conclusion of the special committee appointed to assess “strategic alternatives.”

Lenovo has been mentioned as a potential purchaser of the handset business as it seeks to expand beyond its native China, while Dell has also struggled to gain traction in the smartphone market,

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