BlackBerry has narrowed its list of potential bidders, aiming for a November sale

Ian Hardy

September 4, 2013 6:32 pm

It’s known that BlackBerry is currently exploring several options that could lead the to Waterloo-based company down a road towards a  joint venture, strategic partnership, alliance, or a possible sale. To-date no company has stepped up and put a firm offer down. Competing manufacturers like Samsung have boldly stated that they’re not interested in acquiring BlackBerry.

However, the Wall Street Journal is reporting today that ‘people familiar with the matter’ say that BlackBerry is “aiming to run a fast auction process that could be wrapped up by November.” Apparently the special committee in charge of organizing BlackBerry’s next steps, which include CEO Thorsten Heins, have engaged in preliminary talks with interested parties and have “narrowed its list of potential bidders.” These unknown buyers are reportedly “interested in buying part or all of the company.”

BlackBerry has over 69 million BlackBerry subscribers and 60 million BBM subscribers – which the company is also considering splitting into a separate business. The report doesn’t mention who the companies are, or what price BlackBerry might be valued at. BlackBerry has a market cap of $5.91 billion and their stock closed today $11.28, up 4.93%.

Source WSJ

  • JB

    SONY or Fairfax

    • Harjoet Mudan

      ooo, yeah Sony sounds interesting, I can see Blackberry fitting in nicely there

    • Fawoo

      I don’t see Sony bidding. Samsung is more likely due to their recent push in enterprises, and their bountiful amounts of cash.

      Microsoft, Google, Apple are probably the top candidates in the consumer space. I’m sure there are dozens more candidates that aren’t in the consumer space though so we’ll just have to see what happens.

    • Chris Lau

      I put out an article today suggesting HP. HP’s open again to acquisitions, but they’re a bit cautious. They did, however, CLEAR nearly 10Bn in debt so they have money. There’s more demand for BB than anyone thinks: BBM was downloaded 100,000 before the fake was removed from Google Play. Sony’s been making great hardware and is really doing well in everything it specializes in. Having a Sony-made Blackberry in the enterprise would be really nice. BB10’s all run Android (just side-load the APK..not hard) so Android-supported BB10 on secure BB10 would work well.

  • Rich

    Mostly the Chinese would be interested in Blackberry, but the CDN government wouldn’t let that happen.

    Next down the list is private investors, likely spearheaded by Fairfax — he owns too much of the company that everyone else would have to pay a premium to get him to sell.

    After that, it’s really hard to say. Some say Microsoft because of the Enterprise push, but I’m not so confident in that. Amazon potentially would have in the past, but it’s less likely now. Samsung doesn’t need to, but in the same breath they are printing so many bills that they may want the patents to protect them from Apple — they could also ditch Tizen for BB10 as their backup OS. Others speculate about Sony, but realistically forget that Sony paid to get out of their partnership with Ericsson (sp) which held them back so I doubt they’d dive right into another partnership of sorts — Also they are becoming a competitor in the Android space with some great phones as of late.

    • Sweet

      I don’t see Amazon going for it. It wouldn’t make sense. Amazon’s strength is in the consumer space, which is BB’s weakness.

    • Rich

      True, but in the same breath Amazon is becoming like all the big players — they want to dip their toes in every puddle of water.

      If I’m not mistaken, they’re really battling away with IBM as of late for cloud services and government contracts. They’ve also been purchasing various companies, some in the business sector.

      What I’m curious about though is how BB10 being compatible with Android apps may influence things. The Kindle platform is obviously Android based and has its own app store, but how difficult would it be to convert it over to BB10? This could help them expand the potential user base without alienating their existing users.

      Just a thought, although entirely unlikely still.

    • Sweet

      I didn’t know Amazon started getting into the business sector. In that case, I agree that Amazon buying BB would make some sense.

      Several months ago I read that BB was rumoured to be in talk with Google about getting BB10 to run Android apps natively. That would be a huge boost for BB10.

  • Super_Deluxe

    I want to see them go down in flames for all they put us through. Of course that was back when I was a loyal customer until that changed last September. Switched to Android and never looked back once or even thought of going back. I’m also happy they gave in a made BBM multi-platform. That’s the only thing I missed about blackberry but thankfully not anymore.

  • AKDISQUS

    No one is going to bid for anything, why would they when in 1-2 quarter they can buy them out cheaper. The only reason Blackberry is so desperate is because they know their sales are horrible. Takeover rumors have been played out since 2 years ago and nothing has materialized ever since.

    Why would now be every different, the media and blackberry can spin desperation in many different fancy words like strategic alternative and rapid sale process but the reality is this nothing but to pump the stock to keep vultures at bay.

    • Fuzzyfish6

      Ya OK manic.

  • charlie2010

    re: Wall Street Journal is reporting today that ‘people familiar with the matter’

    These the same people who reported BB was going out of business in 2012 and BB10 was supposed to be DOA in 2013?

    They have 0 credibility, quoting them as credible sources reflects poorly on mobilesyrup

  • Sweet

    IMO, the only companies that would be interested in all of BB’s divisions/units would be financial/investment companies.

    Tech companies will only be interested in parts of BB, with the exception of HP. But I see no indication HP wants to get back into the mobile space. Lenovo might, but I’m not sure they need BB’s hardware division.

    I’m certain IBM is the most interested in the BB’s network services division, followed by Samsung and Microsoft.

    Few would be interested in keeping BB10 — they’d just copy several of the features and tech into their own platform — unless BB modifies BB10 to run Android apps natively, as was rumoured a while back.

    Nobody would be interested in BB’s hardware unit.

    Every company in the mobile device space would be interested in BB’s patent portfolio.

    Whatever happens, I hope BB10 doesn’t get scrapped.

    • PT

      BB’s hardware unit and patent portfolio that’s count. nobody care about BB nor BB10.

    • Sweet

      BB’s hardware is a commodity. There’s nothing special about it. BB’s biggest value is in their network services and patent portfolio.

    • pablow

      NORTEL

    • Mark

      No, those physical-keyboard zealots shouldn’t be discounted in the valuation. They’re very loyal, and the BB qwerty devices are the only game in town. They are subscribers that will instantly transfer to the buyer and not bleed away.

      The ecosystem is a graveyard. That and BB10 needs to go. Everything else make up a decent market cap for a struggling company with no debt.

    • Sweet

      I don’t discount the value of the physical keyboard. But as far as I know BB doesn’t have a patent on it and there doesn’t seem to be anything about it that others couldn’t make themselves. So, if another company is allow to, and able to, create a phone with a physical keyboard, then why would they want to buy BB’s hardware division ?

    • Mark

      They don’t have a patent, but no one else wants to make keyboard because they don’t make any money. Samsung was the last to really give it a shot. It is hard to even find one today. Except those BB customers that can’t live without them for some reason. They must have 95% of the qwerty market share. I don’t claim to comprehend why (I find it down right confusing actually), but there is goodwill in those BB qwerty’s. Why kill them just to reinvent the wheel?

    • Sweet

      If the physical keyboard market is profitable, then another company could make a physical keyboard phone should BB cease to exist. My point is, the other company wouldn’t have to buy BB’s hardware division to do so.

    • freestaterocker

      Actually I believe LG was the last OEM to release devices with a hardware qwerty… But yeah, nobody’s making them but BB anymore.

    • Mr.R

      or BBM

  • Robert Chartier

    Sony, Huawei Microsoft

  • Houli

    I’ll buy it for 50 bucks.

    • Mark

      That’s 4 shares after commission. just 52 million more and it’s yours.

  • Mark

    I think Microsoft and Blackberry would make a great partnership/buyout. Businesses would go for this in a big way. The BB operating system could be killed and its best security components could be integrated into WP. And the physical keyboard loyalists would stick around with the new hardware-only BB segment. It would give Microsoft a respectable enough subscriber base to give its ecosystem a chance.

  • └̠[Ỹầşħ]┐̄

    Samsung
    Lenovo
    Dell
    Sony (likely but i doubt)
    Yahoo
    Google
    Amazon
    Microsoft
    heres my list

    • Mark

      Seeing a list like that makes me think it’ll be carved up like a turkey. Google would love the patents, Samsung or Dell scooping up BBM. Microsoft grabbing the hardware. By the time the bidding is done it wouldn’t surprise me if the proceeds exceed market cap.

    • Sweet

      Microsoft just bought a hardware company, so I highly doubt they’d be interested in BB’s hardware unit. They would be interested in the patents, though.

      I’m thinking Yahoo! might be really interested in BBM. Why would Dell be interested in BBM ?

    • Mark

      Yahoo would be a great fit for BBM. I just see Dell very disappointed at having to leave the smartphone market, and I’m not convinced they won’t get back in under the right circumstances. BBM is still big for businesses, and that’s more what Dell wanted as opposed to a consumer device. I see them doing anything to prove they’re not just an assembler of hardware.

    • Sweet

      If didn’t even know Dell was ever in the phone business. :-) In that case, it makes sense, since the PC market is tanking and clearly beyond its peak.

    • wildspin

      Add IBM … they might scoop it up for the enterprise service market.

    • └̠[Ỹầşħ]┐̄

      ibm is lenovo.

    • ToniCipriani

      *facepalm*

      IBM only sold their PC division to Lenovo.

  • hoo dat

    Cisco

    • Sweet

      Cisco ?! Why ? How would BB fit in with Cisco ?

    • hoo dat

      A) Both companies have an enterprise focus and with BlackBerry going back to its enterprise roots and becoming a niche player, a partnership of some kind just makes more and more sense;
      B) Cisco has $50B cash burning a whole in its pocket;
      C) Cisco is an expert in acquisitions having made over 150 successful purchases/mergers in the past;
      D) Cisco has shown an interest in the past of getting into the enterprise device market with a business only tablet, getting into bed with a device manufacturer to expand in that market just makes sense, far more sense than any other potential suitor out there. Lenovo would be an interesting option, but with their push toward the consumer market recently in China, the match doesn’t look as good as it once did.

  • rd0t

    The day BlackBerry sells is a sad day for Canada and mobile technology in general. Hopefully it wont mean the end for a very promising OS in BB10.

    I would love to see Samsung ditch Android and purchase BlackBerry and pump insane amounts of resources (R&D and marketing mostly..) into BB10 and show people what they’re really missing. I know that’ll never happen but it makes you think about why Samsung even started developing Bada OS..

  • Jagdeep Singh

    People comment nonsense on forums thinking they know everything.I would like to add my 2 cents on the situation.

    – BB has no debt so it has a clean balance sheet.
    – Cutting edge technology multiple patents for the security
    – Security trusted by Govt and multiple companies.
    – 60+Million Subs who are BB clients.

    Above said points are enough to make it a great investment for Banks or Big firms like Amazon , IBM , CISCO etc.

    I wish Blackberry best of luck as its very easy to kick a injured dog but i stand by Blackberry because i am proud of it.

    A Proud Canadian

    • JTon

      The above points are strong. But BB is currently bleeding and it’s not showing signs that it is capable of stopping it. Investors look for trends and the projections into the future for BB don’t look as strong. I’m a Z10 owner and I’m proud as well… but I believe the picture you painted is too rosy.

  • Randy McQueary

    Gordon Gekko should buy Blackberry. And then go and eat everyone’s lunch for them.

  • bill masion

    Hoping Google or Samsung, both can use the software and hardware patents for better phones. Google can also use the crazy encryption algorythmns to harden aspects of Android.

  • └̠[Ỹầşħ]┐̄

    blackberry is going to be sold to cisco in the middle on the night at 4am on a sunday. its coming.

    • Günter Schwarz

      It would be interesting if it actually happened and at that time too lol

    • Sweet

      Why Cisco ? I don’t see how would BB fit in with Cisco.

    • wildspin

      If Cisco is true then I see that BB is going to be broken up because many pieces in the portfolio don’t fit in the picture well … they are probably after its patents and network.

    • └̠[Ỹầşħ]┐̄

      cisco is pretty big in the enterprise my friend. RIM or blackberry servers around the world is quite unique and very powerful and capable of the best enterprise in the world. no competition.

    • wildspin

      You may be right and I actually work with Cisco a lot, when it comes to enterprise services they are no match to IBM from many aspects. The deal would make sense if they determine to expand in those areas though.

  • 2dfx

    My bets are on Lenovo.

    A enterprise-class technology company that has no mobile unit. They would also be a good fit for them.

    Of course, the next likeliest suitor after Lenovo would be CIsco, but who knows? It’s still early, and we are still going on heresay at this point.

  • Steven Clarke

    BlackBerry can’t even sell phones, how can it sell itself?
    By Novermber? Ha! knowing their track record of meeting timelines, they won’t be sold until 2015, unless they have been forced out of business before then.
    i bet they have no buyers as the headlines make them appear really desperate.
    only thing driving the stock now is the buyout rumour.

  • Abdul Al-Basith

    I’m buying BlackBerry