Lenovo RIM Takeover Possible Says CFO

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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Lenovo could enter smartphone market but would face opposition from US and Canada

Lenovo could be interested in acquiring BlackBerry smartphone manufacturer RIM, a senior executive has reportedly admitted.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Lenovo’s chief financial officer Wong Mai Ming said the company was looking “at all opportunities” and that it had held talks with RIM and its bankers about various combinations of strategic ventures.

China’s Lenovo made waves in the PC market when it acquired IBM’s PC business in 2005 and has since taken over German firm Medion, with speculation suggesting it could be interested in entering the smartphone market.

Lenovo RIM takeover possible

However, it has been suggested that any takeover of RIM would face opposition from the Canadian government and from regulators in the US.

The Investment Canada Act gives the Canada the authority to veto deals that could harm Canadian interests or national security, while US Officials would likely have security concerns about its employees using products owned by a Chinese company. The US government is one of RIM’s largest customers and it has made several efforts to retain the business of as many public departments as possible.

A number of government agencies, including the US Department of Defence and the US Immigration and Customer Enforcement agency (ICE) have opened the door to other manufacturers for smartphones and mobile management platforms, having previously used BlackBerrys exclusively.

Security concerns

Late last year, the upcoming BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system was granted FIPS 140-2 security certification by the US government, meaning that it can be used by government agencies from launch day.

The perpetually-delayed BlackBerry 10 operating system is seen as vital to RIM’s future after seeing its share of the smartphone market eroded by rivals such as Apple and Samsung. The first smartphones running the platform are due to be unveiled later this month.

Earlier this week, RIM CEO Thorsten Heins said the company is open to the idea of licensing BlackBerry 10 or even selling off the company’s handset division if the launch is a success.

Heins said the reason BlackBerry 10 had taken so long to develop was because “we have taken the time to build a platform that is future-proof for the next ten years.” RIM sees uses for it beyond smartphones, he added, such as networked cars and other “completely new areas of growth,” that meant it would make sense to license it to other manufacturers.

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