BlackBerry eyeing sale or merger

rim-blackberry-touchThe board of directors at Canadian device maker BlackBerry has formed a Special Committee to weigh up the idea of selling the firm or running it as a joint venture with a partner.

The firm said it would “explore strategic alternatives to enhance value and increase scale in order to accelerate BlackBerry 10 deployment”. It admitted that such alternatives could include “possible joint ventures, strategic partnerships or alliances, a sale of the Company or other possible transactions”.

The Special Committee is comprised of chairman Barbara Stymiest, CEO and president Thorsten Heins, and board members Richard Lynch and Bert Nordberg, who both joined the firm earlier this year. The committee will be chaired by senior Partner of TPG Capital and BlackBerry board member Timothy Dattels.

“During the past year, management and the Board have been focused on launching the BlackBerry 10 platform and BES 10, establishing a strong financial position, and evaluating the best approach to delivering long-term value for customers and shareholders,” said Dattels. “Given the importance and strength of our technology, and the evolving industry and competitive landscape, we believe that now is the right time to explore strategic alternatives.”

President and CEO Heins pointed out that BlackBerry has a strong balance sheet and said he is pleased with the progress that has been made at the firm.

“As the Special Committee focuses on exploring alternatives, we will be continuing with our strategy of reducing cost, driving efficiency and accelerating the deployment of BES 10, as well as driving adoption of BlackBerry 10 smartphones, launching the multi-platform BBM social messaging service, and pursuing mobile computing opportunities by leveraging the secure and reliable BlackBerry Global Data Network,” he said.

Prem Watsa, Chairman and CEO of financial services holding company Fairfax Financial informed BlackBerry that he felt it was appropriate to resign from his position on the board due to potential conflicts that may arise during the process. Fairfax Financial is the largest BlackBerry shareholder.

“I continue to be a strong supporter of the Company, the Board and Management as they move forward during this process, he said. “Fairfax Financial has no current intention of selling its shares.”

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