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Tuesday, 24 September 2013 08:07

Fairfax Financial to buy BlackBerry

Written by David Stellmack

Deal expected to close in early November

Early Monday afternoon BlackBerry confirmed that trading of the company’s stock would be halted pending big news. The big news was that BlackBerry had a letter of intent from Fairfax Financial Holdings to pay $9 per share to BlackBerry stock holder in a deal valued at $4.7 billion dollars.

The news comes as the company announced that 4,500 BlackBerry employees were let go in another round of layoffs and the company expected a net operating loss of $950 million for its second quarter and the final numbers could be even higher.

Buyer Fairfax already holds a 10 percent stake in BlackBerry and it isn’t clear what the company plans to do once it purchases BlackBerry and gets into the driver’s seat. BlackBerry expects the deal to close in early November, but the firm is required to actively solicit, receive, evaluate, and talk to other potential bidders, in an effort to get a better deal. At this point it is doubtful that a better deal is coming down the road.

It has been suggested that BlackBerry could stay around at a niche player, with it developing software for other platforms as well as licensing BlackBerry OS 10. So far however, there have not been any takers wanting to license the BlackBerry OS. Still the company has some compelling technology and some good patents, especially in the encryption area that could be valuable.

It seems that everything that BlackBerry does has been too little too late and despite some very good reviews of both the new BlackBerry 10 OS and BlackBerry OS 10 devices, the company has not been able to gain any serious traction with their new devices. The company does have some significant market share outside of North America, but that too has been eroding newer low cost devices from Android have it the market space. Apple too looks to get into this lower cost tier with the release of the new iPhone 5c.

The news will make little difference to both Google and Apple, but Microsoft who recently purchased the Nokia cell phone business could look to gain some additional market share if BlackBerry isn’t able to stay in the game.

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