BlackBerry assets ripe for picking?

13 Aug 2013

Pioneering Canadian smartphone manufacturer BlackBerry is considering a range of options for its future which include an outright sale of the company or selling off assets individually, Reuters reports. Prem Watsa, the head of BlackBerry’s largest shareholder Fairfax Financial Holdings, announced yesterday that he is leaving the board to avoid any potential conflicts of interest as the struggling firm determines its next move, while Canadian newspaper The Globe & Mail wrote that Fairfax was talking to industry and private equity players about the possibility of taking BlackBerry private. Canadian pension funds and some of BlackBerry’s manufacturing rivals have also been put in the potential frame for ownership restructuring deals. According to analysts cited by Reuters, the value of BlackBerry’s main assets easily outweigh its USD5.4 billion market capitalisation. These include its services business which supports its secure messaging system, worth ‘USD3 billion-USD4.5 billion’; various patents ‘that could be worth USD2 billion to USD3 billion’; and USD3.1 billion in cash and investments. However, analysts caution that the BlackBerry smartphone manufacturing business has ‘little or no value’ and ‘it might cost USD2 billion to shut the unit.’

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