BlackBerry To Sell 3m Square Feet Of Canadian Real Estate

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 looks to raise money by selling its Waterloo properties

BlackBerry has confirmed it plans to sell the majority of its property holdings in Canada as the struggling manufacturer seeks to raise funds while it completes its latest recovery plan.

The properties to be offered in the sale amount to three million square feet and will be sold through real estate firm CBRE. BlackBerry plans to sell some of the buildings and lease them back from the new owners, while it will also get rid of other properties it no longer needs as it carries out its downsizing programme.

The majority of BlackBerry’s real estate is in the Waterloo area, but CEO John Chen stresses it is committed to the region, which is dubbed Canada’s ‘Technology Triangle’.

Homes under the hammer

Blackberry crumble smartphone © sarsmis Shutterstock“BlackBerry remains committed to being headquartered in Waterloo and having a strong presence in Canada along with other global hubs,” he says. “This initiative will further enhance BlackBerry’s financial flexibility, and will provide additional resources to support our operations as our business continues to evolve.”

Chen does not say how much he hopes to raise from the sale, and the company will not reveal any transaction details until they are completed. Last month, BlackBerry announced it was going to sell five buildings to the University of Waterloo for around C$41 million (£23m).

The University will purchase buildings known as BlackBerry 1, BlackBerry 2, BlackBerry 3, BlackBerry 4 and BlackBerry 16 from the company, adding 300,000 square feet to its campus and more than 1,000 parking spaces. BlackBerry will remain in BlackBerry 2 and BlackBerry 16 for up to five more years.

BlackBerry is apparently the largest occupier of office space in the Waterloo region, and releasing such a large volume of space at one time could flood the market and decrease the value of the company’s assets. Even then, there is no guarantee the new owners would be able to find tenants.

However Google-owned Motorola is opening a hub in the region and it is suggested that other companies could step into to fill the vacuum and take advantage of the engineering talent being let go in BlackBerry’s massive redundancy programme.

Will things improve for BlackBerry in 2014 Try our 2013 BlackBerry quiz!

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