BlackBerry Founder Seeks Private Equity Partners For Takeover Bid – Report

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Former co-CEO Mike Lazaridis hold taks with private equity firms over joint bid for BlackBerry

Former BlackBerry co-CEO Mike Lazaridis is reportedly considering taking over the struggling company and has held discussions with private equity firms regarding the possibility of a joint bid.

The Wall Street Journal says Lazaridis has reached out to a number of firms, including Blackstone Group and Carlyle Group, but it is unclear what kind of bid he is considering or how far discussions have progressed.

Lazardis founded BlackBerry, then known as Research in Motion (RIM), in Canada in 1984 and was co-CEO with Jim Balsillie until early 2012, when they stepped down in favour of Thorsten Heins.

BlackBerry sale

BlackBerry Q5 BlackBalsillie sold his shares in the company late last year, but it is believed that Lazaridis currently holds 29.9 million shares in BlackBerry, an increase of about 200 shares from the third quarter of 2012, which gives him a 5.7 percent stake in the company.

His knowledge of the company could be useful in a takeover, but it is worth noting he presided over the early part of BlackBerry’s recent, dramatic decline, the most recent stage of which saw it cut 4,500 jobs, or 40 percent of its global workforce, and announce expected second quarter losses of £624 million.

BlackBerry was once widely considered the market leader in enterprise smartphones, but has seen its share eroded by the likes of Apple and Samsung devices which can offer many of the same security and administration features.

Sum of its parts

Its hopes of a recovery rested on a successful launch of smartphones running the BlackBerry 10 operating system, but sales have been disappointing and the company announced last month it had formed a committee to evaluate its strategic alternatives, including putting itself up for sale.

It has been suggested BlackBerry’s extensive catalogue of patents could be worth as much as $5 billion if sold to one party, while its 72 million subscribers, of which 20 million are believed to be enterprise or corporate, are also believed to be valuable.

The fact it owns most of its own facilities and had already spent a significant amount of money on restructuring and redundancies is also in its favour, but some analysts see next to no value in the handset business and even estimated it would cost close to $2 billion to shut down.

A number of companies have been linked with a takeover, including its largest shareholder, Fairfax Holdings.

BlackBerry has had a bumpy year! Try our 2013 BlackBerry quiz!

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